The Māori Party wants all students to be given passes in this year's national exams because of the disruption caused by Covid-19.
The party's co-leader John Tamihere said all students in Years 10 to 13 "must all be given pass marks to NCEA", the National Certificates of Educational Achievement.
His call was quickly dismissed by both Education Minister Chris Hipkins and National Party education spokeswoman Nicola Willis.
But it came after Auckland Secondary Schools Principals' Association president Steve Hargreaves said Auckland students should be given up to four extra bonus credits to make up for the 13 days of classes they will miss in the current regional level 3 lockdown.
The NZ Qualifications Authority (NZQA) agreed in June to give all NCEA students one extra credit for every five credits they achieve this year, up to a maximum of 10 credits in NCEA Level 1 and eight credits at Levels 2 and 3.
Hargreaves said Auckland secondary principals would hold a Zoom meeting tomorrow to finalise a proposal, but he felt that "on a pro-rata basis" Auckland NCEA students should now get up to an additional four bonus credits.
"We are going to make an appeal to NZQA for that, or for other mechanisms that we know that a group is working on within NZQA," he said.
Tamihere said all students should be given an NCEA "amnesty" to avoid swelling the numbers of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET).
In June, 13.5 per cent of young Māori, 13.7 per cent of Pasifika young people and 9.2 per cent of all young people aged 15 to 24 were NEET and not caring for children or other family members.
"Prior to Covid, there were 35,000 Māori aged 14-20 not in education, training or employment," he said.
"We cannot in a post-Covid environment knowingly allow these numbers to explode because they have nowhere else to go but to participate in crime or worse, to have to sell themselves on our streets."
He said students should still be awarded merit and excellence grades and University Entrance selectively, based on their previous achievement before the latest lockdown. His proposed "amnesty" for all students would apply only to achieving NCEA.
Last year 70.6 per cent of Year 11 students achieved NCEA Level 1, 77.5 per cent of Year 12 students achieved NCEA Level 2 and 67.3 per cent if Year 13 students achieved NCEA Level 3, but only 49.3 per cent achieved University Entrance.
"Everyone should be treated relatively, so for example someone that is clearly shining as a scholarship student or a merit or excellence, that should still be in play, so you are not holding back high achievers," Tamihere said.
Hipkins said he is "looking at whether any further support needs to be put in place" for NCEA students, but rejected Tamihere's call to pass everyone.
"Giving everyone a pass mark regardless of their efforts and abilities would damage the credibility of our qualification system as a whole. It's not something that the Government would consider," he said.
Willis also said it was "appropriate for the Ministry of Education to consider what further support and adjustment might be specifically needed for Aucklanders studying for NCEA".
"However, the suggestion from the Māori Party goes too far," she said.
"Providing a blanket entitlement to NCEA, regardless of a student's actual effort or achievement, would be extreme and unfair. It would belittle the achievement of thousands of students - Māori and non-Māori - who have made progress in NCEA this year, despite the obstacles they've faced.
"Mr Tamihere's proposal amounts to nothing but the soft bigotry of low expectations."
Meanwhile, east Auckland's Botany Downs Secondary College has agreed to postpone its senior school exams after a petition signed by more than 500 students.
The school had been due to start its school exams on Monday, September 7, but a petition asked for the exams to be cancelled or postponed to "ensure that there is a minimum of three weeks classroom time prior to the first exam".
College principal Karen Brinsden said the timing of exams would now change.
"In my Parent/Student Update dated August 19, I stated that we had some flexibility to move the school exams back depending on how long we were going to be kept in alert level 3," she said.
"Now that we have definite dates from the Government, we are now able to progress these plans. We will have a revised senior school exam schedule available on Wednesday of this week."
Hargreaves' school, Macleans College, has also moved internal school exams for its NCEA students from the week starting September 7 to the first week of term four starting on October 12 because of the latest lockdown.
But Hargreaves said school exams would still go ahead on September 7 for the half of Macleans' senior students who do Cambridge International exams, which run from October 1 to November 18.