Hi everyone! Here's the random discussion I promised y'all in my "what's in store for 2018" post. Though I doubt many of you are going to enjoy this post, it's coming anyway. I thought I should post about more than just books, so tell me any other topics you want me to post about!

I've lived in New Zealand for almost fourteen years now, and have attended three different schools, all of which have influenced my current opinions on the system. Let me give you a brief run down on how it works:

Primary School

Equivalent to Elementary School in the US, except we start school at 4/5 years old. During these six years of schooling, you are assessed against the National Standards, which were recently removed. You learn to write, basic maths (times tables up to ten), some spelling/reading and honestly? Not much else. Of course, this is entry level schooling so they're not going to teach you university stuff, but I still think a little more than writing and basic maths should be taught.

Intermediate School

Equivalent to Middle School in the US, the difference here is that Intermediate School is grade 6-7; grade 8 is High School. At my intermediate, I definitely learnt a lot; the social scene changed a whole lot, and we did a lot more project based things such as technology (wood, fabric, art, food) as well as inquiries (research projects).

High School

This is where my issue with the system really starts. In Year 11 (Grade 10/Australian Year 10) we start NCEA, a series of examinations and assessments which give you credits. There are three levels, and in year 11 you start with Level 1. For University, they look at your Level 2 results, as results for external examinations are released January the year after.

There are two types of examinations from which you can get credits; internals, which are marked by your school, and externals, which is an exam you sit in November. Externals go for three hours, and generally consist of three standards/papers per exam. You take one exam per subject.

It doesn't sound horrible, right? I would usually be inclined to agree, but after experiencing it myself... It's an absolute horror, for many reasons.

#1: the grading system

For these exams, you can get four different marks: Not Achieved (NA), Achieved (A), Merit (M), and Excellence (E). As someone who prefers the percentage system, this is really annoying. Maybe you're thinking that I'm just whiny and problematic, but the main reason I hate this system is because of how it's marked.

In an exam, each question has a 'grade'; A, M, or E. The person sitting the test doesn't know which question is worth more, but the marker does. Of course, you can guess, especially as excellence questions usually give you around half a page of writing space. Your mark is determined by how many of each question type you get right.

This system is completely unfair in my opinion. Suppose there was a test consisting of twenty questions; 12 achieved, 6 merit, and 2 excellence. Let's say Person A and Person B were both sitting this test. Person A gets 18/20; all 12 achieved questions and all 6 merit questions correct, but they messed up the two excellence questions. The rubric for this test says that to get excellence, you had to get both excellence questions right, five merit questions, and eight achieved. Because Person A missed those two questions, their mark is Merit; even though they completed 90% of the test, which would be an A in other countries.

Person B got both excellence questions right, five merit questions, and eight achieved, landing them a score of 15/20. This person would get an Excellence because referring back to the rubric, they fulfilled all the standards. However, in another country their score of 15/20 would give them a total of 75%, which would not be an A. 

My point is, why should Person B get a better mark than Person A when Person A got more questions correct? They are clearly more consistent than Person B, who did get the two excellence questions correct, but didn't get some of the "easier" questions correct. The main issue with this is that even if a question is classed as an excellence question, it isn't always the "hardest" question around. I've done many tests where to me, the merit questions are a lot harder.

#2: the exams

As I explained earlier, there are two types of exams; internals and externals. Internals aren't as formal, and are completed during the year. On average you get four per year, two per semester. They're quite evenly spread in an attempt to reduce the workload, but this still doesn't help me.

I prefer having one exam at the end of the year, a make or break it sort of thing; if you do well, you get a good mark, if you fail, you get a bad mark. I know this can be stressful for a lot of people, but since this is a globally recognised exam method why not introduce it in New Zealand too?

The advantages of this system are that you won't get a bad mark just because you were busy throughout the year and did badly in internals. As someone who does many extracurriculars, I often find it difficult to set aside time for school during the year, but as it winds down and heads towards holidays and exam season, I have a lot more free time to study.

At university, exams are conducted in a much more serious manner than at New Zealand high schools. If high school is here to prepare us for university, shouldn't the exams reflect that? I believe that instead of internals, there should be assignments; instead of it being an hour long supervised test it's a reflection of your work ethic throughout a longer period of time.

#3: resubmission

People here seem to think the fact that you can resubmit exams and apply for a new mark is a good thing, but I disagree. In the real world, do you get a second chance if you blow that audition? No. I agree that it can be heartbreaking when you mess up, but it's also a learning process; you need to learn to pick yourself up and work harder, because sometimes it's a wake up call you need to hear. But if you can resubmit, it's like erasing that mistake. Mistakes shouldn't be erased, they should be learnt from.

So there you have it, a few reasons why I don't like the New Zealand education system! I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below! Do you like the education system where you live? What could be improved upon?