Western Bay students once again beat the national average in all of the three different NCEA certificate levels last year.

Aquinas College, Bethlehem College, Mount Maunganui College, Tauranga Girls' College and Te Puke High School all scored higher than average achievement rates.

The data used by the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend is based on the number of students studying towards each certificate. Some schools opted to use results based on the total number of students enrolled at the beginning of the year regardless of whether they left partway through the year.

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Aquinas College assistant principal Fraser Graham said no matter what measurement was used, either the school roll or participation rates, the school was "very happy" with its results.

"Anything in the high 90s is an exceptional achievement, and we are also really happy about the 16 scholarships we gained, seven more than in 2014."

Mr Graham said the college also achieved an outstanding scholar award, with only 50 awarded nationwide, which meant it placed the school in the top 75 schools in the country.

Katikati College associate principal Shelley Power said: "Overall we are very pleased with our results - in particular level one passes which were above the national and decile 4-6 averages, and level two which was at national and above decile 4-7 averages.

"This year we are also thrilled with our results for our Pasifika students, 85 per cent of whom achieved level one NCEA, and 100 per cent achieved level two and three NCEA."

Tauranga Girls' College principal Pauline Cowens said: "We were very pleased with our own our overall results and particularly the levels of merit and excellence endorsements. It was an outstanding year for us."

Deputy principal Glenda Rowlands added: "The excellent NCEA results are a reflection of high standards of teaching as well as a very strong pastoral network, academic conferencing and robust tracking of student achievement throughout the year."

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Bethlehem College associate principal Steve Te Whaiti said: "We've done very well again, with some fantastic NCEA results. Not only are they above the national standard for decile 8-10 schools, but above the national achievement rates across the board."

Mr Te Whaiti said the school had also been celebrating the 26 scholarships it gained last year, double the number of the previous year.

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell said overall the school's NCEA results were well above the national average for decile seven schools.

"The Government has set a target for all school leavers to achieve at least 85 per cent pass rate in level two NCEA by 2017, and we achieved 77 per cent last year which was disappointing.

"This year we achieved 90 per cent which is an excellent result and well ahead of the national target. I must compliment my students and all our staff who have worked extremely hard to achieve these results."

He said lifting students' achievement rates had been a focus. "But one of big disadvantages for our school is the large number of international students and teenage parent unit students who do not always go on to finish their NCEA qualifications."

Te Puke High principal Alan Liddle said his staff and students started the year by celebrating the great results achieved by its senior students.

"The results show that students from all the demographic groups have achieved well. Students, staff, the Board of Trustees, parents and caregivers and the community can be proud of these great results," he said.

Mr Liddle said the challenge to all current Year 11-13 students was to use the school's core values to focus on continual improvement of learning and achievement.

Tauranga Boys' College was one of the schools which has opted to use the school roll measurement, viewing it as a fairer gauge of overall achievement rates.

Rob Gilbert, Tauranga Boys' College deputy principal learning and achievement, said: "Last year we set ourselves a target of 80 per cent which was an aspirational target well above the national average for both level one and two NCEA. We certainly achieved that."

Mr Gilbert said the school was "pretty pleased" with its overall results.

"We also achieved 28 scholarships which is highest number of scholarships in the region, something we are absolutely thrilled about."

Mount Maunganui College principal Russell Gordon said: "Our school is pleased to be a part of a local cluster of high-performing schools as evidenced by the great NCEA results produced in the Western Bay of Plenty.

"I'm particularly proud of the results gained by our students and want to acknowledge their hard work along with the support provided to them by our teachers. Last year was a successful one for us and I am looking forward to this continuing into 2016 and beyond."

Papamoa College and Te Wharekura o Mauao had not returned calls by the time this edition went to print.