Currently at Aquinas College we have a system where selected students have the opportunity to sit NCEA Level 1 Mathematics and/or Science when they are in Year 10.
In maths this is managed by having all the students “blocked together” for maths at Years 9 & 10 which means that students can be grouped according to mathematics ability. This measure comes from AsTTLe testing and other maths tests. The group is also monitored during the year and students can be shifted if they are not coping &/or other students show they are capable of doing this programme.
In science students are not “blocked together” so the situation is slightly different. Instead a group is selected at the beginning of Year 9 (9P) which becomes the accelerate group for science.
They do Year 10 science in Year 9 and then do Level 1 NCEA Science in Year 10 (in a time frame less than that of other year 11 science classes). This gives those students an opportunity to pick up a slightly wider range of options as they go further on in the senior school. The group also receives a little enrichment in the English area but otherwise their subject programmes are similar to all other Year 9 & 10 classes. We are very aware of the importance of not placing students in the class who may struggle to cope with the workload.
Selection of 9P
In selecting this group a number of factors are considered. A single test result on its own is just an indicator whereas several results and teacher input give a better picture of a student’s overall performance. The factors considered include:
1. The most recent Asttle and PAT test scores of the year group. These tests are general ability tests and do not necessarily depend on which class the student has been in during Years 7 & 8.
2. ICAS results (a common international science assessment) are also taken into account.
3. The recommendations from Year 8 teachers and Dean are considered.
9P (& 10 P) are monitored and the Dean reviews the class during the year. Students may be shifted during the year and a review is done at the end of Year 9. This means that other top performing students can have an opportunity to enter the 9P or 10P group.
Students not in 9P/10P continue with the full Year 9 & 10 courses in all subjects (including Science) and sit their NCEA Level 1 in Year 11. Students have the opportunity to score at excellence level from any class and past results show this to be the case. The advantage, as stated earlier, is that the 10P students have an opportunity to do different options which they may not have the chance to do coming through the normal route.
We believe that this system provides a good balance in terms of opportunities for students to be accelerated. Results gained by 10P students in NCEA show a high level of success.