"Cabbage" unit standards may be dropped from NCEA in an effort to improve the NCEA's status as a respectable education qualification. In future NCEA will be based on curriculum subjects, although schools can separately offer non-curriculum subjects as unit standards.
This is great news for all the kids - and their parents - in higher decile schools with good NCEA pass rates, but not so good for those at the other end of the economic spectrum.
Some years ago I worked with a "transition" class in a Decile One school; those who had attempted - and failed - some School Certificate subjects. A well-meaning teacher had helped them prepare CVs. As the template was designed around trumpeting academic success, these CVs screamed "Failure!"
I asked the class to identify in turn the individual qualities of each class member. The skills they identified in each other included the "soft skills" increasingly required in business today, such as always completing a task, completing tasks on time, focussing on the task in hand, encouraging and supportive of teammates, and a friendly and approachable manner.
We then re-wrote their CVs with bullet points outlining their qualities. At the bottom of the CV we noted that they had "sat" various subjects. These kids suddenly saw themselves in a more positive light and several of them landed jobs shortly afterwards.
It is perfectly possible for a student to get excellent grades in curriculum NCEA subjects, but be sadly lacking in ability to communicate effectively or work as part of a team. We need to find a way to measure these skills as they are the ones business needs.