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NCEA research and readings

Past and present research, reports, and webinars relating to NCEA.

New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) 

NCEA One Decade On (2013)
This report documents views and experiences of NCEA from NZCER's National Survey of Secondary Schools (2012). It includes responses from teachers, principals, parents, and trustees.

NCEA and Curriculum innovation (2012)
This report explores how innovative teachers and schools think about and enact curriculum change enabled by NCEA.

Laying learning foundations to lift success at NCEA level 3 (2012)
This paper draws on findings from the longitudinal Competent Learners study, begun in 1993, which focuses on students who did not achieve well in reading and numeracy at age 8 yet succeeded at level 2 or 3 in NCEA.  The paper analyses learner qualities between these and other low achievers and discusses the implications for teaching.

Māori and Pacific secondary student and parent perspectives on achievement, motivation, and NCEA (published in the journal Assessment Matters 2010)
A study in which Māori and Pacific students and parents were interviewed about NCEA and its impact on motivation and achievement, with discussion of the implications for policy and practice of these findings.

NCEA subject choices in mid-low decile schools: What schools and parents need to know about the university pathway (published in the journal set 2010)
A study, conducted in four mid-low decile schools, which suggests that engaging parents in their children’s NCEA pathways may contribute to better educational outcomes.

Education Counts 

Chapter 9 of On the edge of adulthood: Young people's school and out-of-school-experiences at 16 looks at how the students studied approached their NCEA work, particularly in the light of challenges that NCEA is not motivating, and that it allows students to make easy choices. (NCEA assessment opportunities, choices, and issues, p.117)

This was published in May 2009 as part of the Competent Children, Competent Learners longitudinal study, begun in 1993.

Motivation and Achievement at Secondary School – The relationship between NCEA design and student motivation and achievement: A three-year follow-up (July 2009)
A summary of major findings from research on the relationship between NCEA and student motivation and achievement, completed as part of a longitudinal research project that began in 2005.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)

Annual reports on NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Data and Statistics
Annual reports summarising the attainments of NCEA and Scholarship candidates from 2009 to present, with reference to achievement in previous years.

This NZQA Assessment Online webinar has information about moving NCEA external student assessment to the online environment. The webinar was run live in October 2014.
Note: You may need to download the latest Java for Mac or Windows.

ERO logo.

Educational Review Office (ERO) 

Increasing educational achievement in secondary schools (August 2013)
This report outlines and evaluates the practices used to support a group of year 12 students initially considered unlikely to achieve NCEA level 2.


Starpath was a research project conducted by the University of Auckland in conjunction with the New Zealand Government. It focused on transforming educational outcomes for New Zealand students who are under-achieving at secondary school and hence are under-represented in tertiary education.

Starpath Project - information on the project and the team, and reports and publications.

Starpath Project: What have we learned?

Technology Online: NCEA review and the review of achievement standards – What do they mean for technology? (July 2019)

In this Technology Online webinar recording Kate Curtis and Nathan Owen from the Ministry of Education give an overview of announced changes to NCEA, and share details of the upcoming Ministry Review of Achievement Standards, and what this review will mean for technology.