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Maths test leaves students in tears

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/09/2016

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has come under fire for a difficult maths test which left students in tears.

Principals around Wellington want to lodge a formal letter of protest over the MCAT (maths common assessment test), which was for Year 11 students last week, says Hutt Valley High School principal Ross Sinclair.

The examination, which was the students' first high-stakes external assessment, was set at a level that was far too difficult - by one account two curriculum levels too high, he wrote in the school's newsletter.

"It has caused strong mathematics students to doubt themselves, has undermined students' confidence in both the examination process and their (good) teachers, has reduced students to tears in the exam room and made several have doubts about whether they have a mathematical future."

The NZQA had "got it wrong", Mr Sinclair, who is chairman of the Greater Wellington Secondary Schools Principals' Association, said.

NZQA says the paper was developed by a team of maths experts and also reviewed by several current secondary school teachers.

The marking schedule could also be adjusted so no student was unfairly penalised if a question was found to be more difficult than expected.

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