As a long-time critic of NCEA I have been collecting evidence from results in the international PISA surveys, which assess the ability of 15-year-olds to solve problems and apply critical thinking in mathematics, science and reading.
In 2000, the first year of these surveys, NZ students gained outstanding results in all three subjects.
Then NCEA was introduced. Ever since, our performance levels have steadily declined, along with those of Australia, which introduced a similar exams system. The three nations with the largest declines in PISA since 2000 were Australia (93 points total across the three subjects), NZ (86 points) and Netherlands (68).
The only other nations adopting this toxic combination of standards-based exams systems and published league tables are Sweden (31 points decline), UK (35), and USA which embraced these policies before PISA surveys began and which has been floundering round below the average ever since.
Meanwhile, nations which resisted the temptation to adopt these two flawed policies in
combination, have blossomed. Portugal, Poland, Luxembourg and Germany, for instance, have all gained over 40 points. Clearly, NCEA needs a major overhaul.
Warwick Elley, Rothesay Bay.
• NCEA overhaul: More emphasis on exams, literacy and numeracy skills
• NCEA maths paper shocks even 'excellence' students, baffles teachers
• NCEA maths exam fury: Can you answer the questions that baffled students, teachers?
• External exams in NCEA 'a gigantic step backwards', college says
Friday's letter on declining education standards by George Lim (NZ Herald, December 6) was spot on. At a large Auckland school we have had the pleasure of seeing a third form entrant in the lowest class rise by five years of very hard work to become dux. But there are lobbies that wish to create "hubs" to compulsorily rotate headmasters to achieve " equality". For that, read "general mediocrity". Interestingly, we don't hear that argument in sport.
Assisting some schools may be very important, but striving for academic excellence is an important and legitimate aim, which helps our young people achieve all around the world, and bring great skills back home. It would be a disaster to limit it. It is a very old saying, that you can not strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
Harold Coop, Remuera.
I support Jeff Hayward and his letter (NZ Herald, December 9), relating to Auckland buses as major, if not the major, source of air pollution in the inner-city areas.
I was surprised to notice today, day three of the bus strike, how much lighter and less polluted the air is in Parnell rise and road as I walked to a work meeting. I use buses quite a lot, but had not realised how much of the air pollution they are causing. With two Link bus routes on these roads, each one in two directions, there are up to 24 buses in an hour, for up to 18 hours a day. That is hundreds each day.
If we care about the health of inner-city residents, changing these to electric buses must be addressed as a top priority.
C Chambers, Parnell.
Seeing the wood
Sir John Logan Campbell gifted Cornwall Park to Auckland "for New Zealanders to enjoy, forever".
If he could have joined us in the park yesterday, he would have been a very happy man. There were hundreds of people ... older folk, young families, many with their pet dogs, all
obviously enjoying the very large, beautiful park with shade provided by a magical mix of exotic and native trees.
There is a strong message there for those who want to destroy Mt Albert's greenery. New Zealand is now home to many races who contribute to our country. Surely, our
surroundings should reflect that mix.
H Robertson, St Heliers.
If you are an Auckland Council ratepayer and wanting to get rid of exotics from your property, now is the time.
Auckland Council, supported by the Tree Council, is waging an extermination campaign against exotics across Auckland.
Any permits will obviously be passed, as long as you replant native trees. The only difference being you will have to pay for it, unlike the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, where the trees will be cut down courtesy of the ratepayer.
Neil Hatfull, Warkworth.
Have you seen that nauseating advert on the telly where the two boys are about to enjoy a
Mr Wippy ice cream, then one of the delicate boys remembers that he needs to wash his hands first?
He produces a bottle of hand sanitiser from his cute little backpack and shares it with his little pal. Mother hen is watching proudly from across the road at her shining example
of social brainwashing. It's all so Pleasantville and totally misrepresents the truth of bacteria and human resistance to germs.
I had slingshots, old biscuits, model toys and other important things in my backpack when I was a kid. Geez, I must be old fashioned. The bacteria in the icecream is more likely to cause illness than a bit of dirt.
Time to get real, Kiwis. Grow up resilient or all gooey like a cream puff. One is a pathway to health and life. The other a pathway to mediocrity and a nice death.
Mark Lewis-Wilson, Mangonui.
I sympathise with S Hansen's experience (NZ Herald, December 5).
As a regular traveller to Wellington, I have observed other changes that reduce service levels.
First, it seems to me that the "30 mins prior" rule is applied to the scheduled departure time, even when flights are delayed.
But the major reduction in service that concerns me is the abandonment of the "stand by" service, that allowed passengers already at the terminal and wanting an earlier flight, to be onboarded what was a fully booked flight, if booked passengers failed to arrive after the final boarding call.
I often used that service when a scheduled appointment finished early, or was cancelled after I'd booked my flights.
This year, I once spent around three hours in the Wellington terminal because all earlier flights were fully booked, and they no longer operate the stand-by service.
At least 50 per cent of the premium Air NZ charge for a flexi return flight is now "unusable", if prior flights are fully booked. Any remaining value, to apply to a later flight, will likewise be destroyed if subsequent flights are fully booked.
Noel Reid, Albany.
I am very grateful for the information from other pilots and counsel more associated with the arguments in regards to the Erebus tragedy.
From a public position I was interested in the cause and therefore Chippindale's findings.
I was not surprised with his conclusion of pilot error. I was surprised by the negative response to that report and then Mahon's inquiry. From the media it seemed clear that the Air New Zealand bosses/spokespersons, especially on TV, seemed obstructive when questions emerged about changes and way points and navigation etc and didn't seem open to them being questioned.
It is that apparent obstruction I referred to as "a litany of lies". I will use a better choice of words in future. I apologise that my comments have included good, reliable, honest safe pilots, that I was not aware of, being denigrated/maligned in Mahon's report.
It is good to hear that pilots had instructions in poor conditions to change to Plan B etc and clear instructions in good conditions not to fly below certain safe altitudes. Thank you again to the two pilots that have given clear information as to the instructions that they were given. It would be good if there is any more information/instructions that applied to their flights. The lack of this knowledge left me, and I believe others of the public, to view Air New Zealand's handling in poor light.
Duncan Munro, Clevedon.
I want to record my admiration for the young US woman, now resident in Australia, Virginia Guiffre, for her formidable courage in standing up to both the US and UK establishments, publicly calling out the peodophile ring of men in "high places" associated with the notorious paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and his procuress, British and US socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
The complicity and foot-dragging of the police, lawyers and judges in the US and UK in protecting these criminals has been - and still is, a disgrace
All of those who perpetrated, took part in, were complicit in, or covered up these crimes against girls should also be investigated and charged/indicted.
Genevieve Forde, Whangaparaoa.
I notice the shared walking/cycling path between New Lynn and Avondale cost Auckland City $44.3 million, or about $15m per km.
A quick Google search of the cost of roading in the USA in April of 2019 shows a cost of NZ$11m per km for building a six-lane interstate highway.
So in Auckland we pay more per km for a walking/cycle path than what the Americans can build a six-lane highway.
Am I missing something?
John Hancock, Karaka.
Letters: Boomer life, state tenants, Grace Millane and Bill Reid
Letters: Erebus, education, ports, Ihumātao, guns, property and Simon Bridges
Letters: Missed flight, living wage, port land, road works and diets
Short & sweet
The drivers only want a palty 2 per cent increase and, having to drive in this city, they deserve every penny. Brent Innes, Milford.
Israel Folau has been elevated to celebrity status for standing on a soapbox to pronounce his "faith". If he's a true Christian, he will donate his substantial winnings to charity. Jack Waters, Taupō.
After all the many and constant road works in Pukekohe with the usual lines of cones – perhaps we should rename our town "Conetown". Jack Jackson, Pukekohe.
I hope Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder will fight soon. It's time for the world to have an undisputed heavyweight champ of the boxing world. Sento Mehlhopt, Albany.
Almost 150,000 children in New Zealand now come from families that are unable to afford enough to eat, good shoes and warm clothes. The population of Hamilton is 152,641. Russell Hoban, Ponsonby
Banning the use of single-use items should also include disposable nappies. A J Petersen, Kawerau.
Simon Bridges is right to criticise this government's lower standards in its favourable treatment of celebrities. Under his previous government, one needed to be a rich celebrity. Grant McLachlan, Warkworth.