Media Release: New NCEA Literacy and Numeracy tests risk setting students up to fail

Dr Michael Johnston
5 December, 2023

Wellington (Tuesday, 5 December 2023) – Changes are coming to the way New Zealand students will be tested for reading, writing, and numeracy for NCEA.  

From 2026, if students fail any one of these new tests, they will not be able to achieve any level of NCEA. Results of initial testing using the new approach suggest that this requirement will cause a substantial fall in NCEA achievement.  

According to Dr Michael Johnston of The New Zealand Initiative, “The incoming government’s intention to reform literacy and numeracy teaching in primary schools will eventually improve outcomes.” 

Until then, Dr Johnston says, an interim solution will be needed. “Until the reforms flow through to improved literacy and numeracy in senior secondary students, literacy and numeracy should be a stand-alone certificate, separate from NCEA.” 


The full policy point Interim measure required for NCEA Literacy and Numeracy is available from The New Zealand Initiative’s website here.

Dr Michael Johnston is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Dr Michael Johnston, Senior Fellow
P: 021 0227 3415

Jamuel Enriquez, Marketing and Communications Manager
P: 021 022 34451
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