About 168,000 school students will find out today how well they have done in New Zealand's annual examination ritual - a rite of progress that may look completely different by the end of next year.
Results for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) will be available on the NZ Qualifications Authority website some time this morning. Last year, students logging in overloaded the website, so this year the authority has refused to say exactly what time the results will go live.
The system may be completely transformed by a review this year that will tackle problems identified in the terms of reference such as "the impact of over-assessment on student well-being and teacher workload" and "assessment-driven teaching and learning".
Ōtāhuhu College final-year student Shaneel Lal, one of a 12-member Youth Advisory Group for new Education Minister Chris Hipkins, said the pressure of internal and external exams in the current system was intense.
"I feel like NCEA for me is about getting the most credits as fast as I can, rather than learning the content," he said.
He attempted 140 credits at Level 1 in 2016 even though he only needed 80 credits to pass, and about 98 credits at Level 2 in 2017, even though the system allows students to "carry over" 20 Level 1 credits so he actually needed only 60 Level 2 credits to pass.
Post Primary Teachers Association vice-president Melanie Webber said schools felt pressured to offer students enough credits from internally assessed courses to get their required 80 or 60 credits even before they sat the end-of-year external exams.
"The majority of students at Year 12 have already got their Level 2 through their internal exams," she said.
"There is huge pressure to ensure that students are through on internal standards before the external exams. Internal assessment is better for a lot of students, and that gives them that option, but it also increases the workload for both students and teachers."
Shaneel, who is studying sciences and aims to do either medicine or engineering, said the balance should shift back towards more external assessment.
"I feel like NCEA is losing its credibility. It's not being able to defend its place against other exams, like Cambridge, that are more externally based," he said.
He said students also needed more help with the mental pressure of constant exams.
"It's getting emotionally overwhelming and a lot of students just give up," he said.
Business NZ education manager Carrie Murdoch said employers hoped the review would put more emphasis on "21st-century skills" such as communication and teamwork.
"We'd like to see the review of NCEA focus on those key skills, attributes and competencies that are in the front end of the NZ Curriculum, but they are really dominated by the subjects," she said.
She said the "elephant in the room" - excluded from the review's terms of reference - was University Entrance, which requires credits in subjects specified by the universities.
"If we all agree that University Entrance has such a pervasive impact in shaping what is on offer in our secondary schools, and if we think 21st-century skills are important, then we have to figure out how do we deal with that," she said.
Hipkins is due to appoint a ministerial advisory group shortly that will publish a discussion document on the key issues in April. He will get final recommendations in September, which may be implemented from next year.
• Students will be able to access their NCEA results on the NZQA website from some time today.
• Students will need to enter their username or national student number and password.
• Any problems can be reported to the NZQA call centre, 0800 697 296.
• Students' full Records of Achievement will be available from tomorrow and students will be able to order their certificates online.
• Answer booklets will be returned from late January.
• NZ Scholarship results will be released on February 13.