ACT leader David Seymour has been quick to praise a report by the New Zealand Initiative that's damning of the NCEA system of measuring student achievement.
The think tank's report 'Spoiled by Choice' was released on Sunday and says there's been 15 years of sustained decline in student performance under the system which it says needs reforming.
"NCEA ensures most New Zealand students leave school with a certificate," says report author Briar Lipson.
"This should be something to celebrate because success builds self-esteem. But what use is NCEA success if students still lack basic skills in reading and maths?"
The National Certificate of Educational Achievement was introduced in 2002-04 to deal with discontent with the old university-dominated system and to make measurement of students' performance more inclusive and flexible.
Ms Lipson says under NCEA well-advised or motivated students still achieve.
But NCEA also offers a plethora of safer alternatives which will maximise NCEA success through the avoidance of more challenging content.
"With pressure on teachers and schools to drive up NCEA pass rates, some students may even be encouraged towards these 'safer' choices," she says.
ACT's Mr Seymour says the New Zealand Initiative report is meticulously researched and comprehensively damning.
"If we want students to leave school well-equipped for 21st century jobs, and if we want to have a high-productivity, high-wage economy, the new government must take its recommendations seriously and restore basic educational standards so that students cannot avoid numeracy and literacy requirements," says Mr Seymour.
Based in Wellington, the think tank was formed in 2012 from the merger of the New Zealand Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute.
The report has been published to coincide with the launch of the Ministry of Education's statutory review of NCEA.
NZ Initiative report recommendations:
* Raise English (and Te Reo) and maths requirements
* A broader core of subjects
* Reduce the number of standards
* Make it harder to teach to the test
* Reduce reliance on internal assessment
* Use Comparative Judgement software
* Commission independent analysis.