New research has revealed gaps in subject knowledge of Year 12 and 13 students undertaking the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).
NCEA chemistry courses were mapped against the New Zealand Curriculum and gaps were found by Dr Michelle Tewkesbury, a recent graduate of Victoria University of Wellington, who has a PhD in education.
Dr Tewkesbury's research focused on a comparison between curriculum, assessment and teaching practices in chemistry within the NCEA and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) - which is an optional qualification offered in some New Zealand secondary schools.
Teachers that took part in the study believed that students studying the IBDP are better prepared than NCEA students for university, because of the completeness of the IBDP syllabus and the approaches to learning it encourages.
"There are significant gaps in NCEA students' knowledge because teachers are teaching only what will be assessed," says Dr Tewkesbury.
"There are significant omissions in what students are being taught because course coverage is dependent on which achievement standards are selected."
Dr Tewkesbury believes the relationship between the New Zealand Curriculum and the NCEA needs addressing.
"The implication is that there is too much internal assessment, as courses are designed to maximise grade outcomes, which in turn links to performance outcomes for schools," Dr Tewkesbury said.