The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA, Māori: Mana Tohu Mātauranga o Aotearoa) is the New Zealand government crown entity tasked with providing leadership in assessment and qualifications. It was established by the Education Act 1989.
NZQA administers the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) and the New Zealand Scholarship for secondary school students. It is also responsible for the quality assurance of non-university, tertiary training providers, the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications, and the National Qualifications Framework. It has further roles in evaluating overseas qualifications.
It is a "Crown Entity" established under the section 248 of the Education Act 1989. In July 1990 it took over the work of the former Universities Entrance Board, the Ministry of Education's examinations, the Trades Certification Board and the Authority for Advanced Vocational Awards.
NZQA is funded from the central government as well as fees, with the budget being about $70 million each year.
In 2005 the Authority's Chairman and CEO resigned after an investigation by the State Services Commission into the 2004 New Zealand Scholarship exams. In the physics exams only 39 out of 1,012 students who sat the exam received a scholarship while in English the result was 228 out of 587. This, and the state of the Authority as a whole at that time, was described by media as a "debacle".
A new Chief Executive (Dr Karen Poutasi) and Board Chair (Sue Suckling) were appointed in 2006 and remain in place in 2014.
Dr Karen Poutasi has previously been the Director General of Health and worked in senior management roles across the health sector. Board Chair Sue Suckling is a governance specialist and heads a Board appointed by the Minister of Education that represents industry, communication and education interests.
A Targeted Review of Qualifications at levels 1-6 on New Zealand’s ten-level qualifications framework commenced in 2008. The review aimed to ensure that New Zealand qualifications are useful and relevant to current and future learners, employers and other stakeholders. NZQA administers the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) which was established in July 2010 as a result of the Targeted Review and is a comprehensive, up-to-date list of all non-university quality assured qualifications in New Zealand.
Tertiary organisations are required to comply with statutory policies like the periodic external evaluation and review (EER) policy that provides an independent judgement of the educational performance and capability in self-assessment of all non-university tertiary education organisations. In 2011 NZQA introduced a new set of incentives and sanctions for providers, based on EER results, to bring higher performance to the sector.
In 2013 more than 143,000 candidates took part in the annual NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship examinations administered by NZQA and achievement results were analysed in the Annual Report on NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Data & Statistics released each year by NZQA.
In May 2014 NZQA introduced ‘Innovation at NZQA’ to its website detailing the organisation’s strategic thinking and ‘Future State’ programme of work around responding to a global and digital environment and trialling new processes and technologies.
NZQA’s Māori strategy, Te Rautaki Māori 2012-2017, guides NZQA towards fulfilling its contribution to the government’s education sector goal of Māori enjoying and achieving education success as Māori. The strategy was launched in June 2012 with the two main goals of Accelerated Māori learner success and advanced use of mātauranga Māori.
NZQA has also produced two publications that support these goals – Enhancing Mātauranga Māori and Global Indigenous Knowledge (launched April 2014) and the earlier Conversations on Mātauranga Māori (launched July 2012).
In 2016 more than 146,000 candidates sat NCEA and Scholarship exams. Because of the Kaikoura earthquake, the Scholarship exams were postponed. Students in the Hurunui and Kaikoura districts were unable to attend their exams as their schools were closed, meaning they had to use their derived grades. Mistakes were made in the 2016 maths exam at every level.