NCEA allows for only four possible grades, which are awarded for both Internal and External units:
- Not Achieved, abbreviated to either NA or N
- Achieved, abbreviated to A
- Achieved with Merit, abbreviated to M
- Achieved with Excellence, abbreviated to E
indicates that the student has reached a minimum level of ability with the skills being tested. It depends hugely on the difficulty of the topic, but for easier topics close to 100% of students might get an "A", while even for the hardest topics as many as 75% might.
level indicates a decent fluency with the material. It depends again on the difficulty of the topic, but between 20% and 40% usually get a Merit grade in any one unit.
indicates the material has been understood to a high level. Depending on the topic, generally between 2% and 8% get an Excellence grade in any one unit.
The boys often consider any
"Achieved" result as a pass. However since the overwhelming proportion of students get at least that grade, those who only just reach it are towards the bottom of any cohort. An Achieved grade does not mean the student is properly fluent with the material – only that they have cleared a minimum, often quite low, bar. If unsure about your boy's progress, you can ask your teacher to indicate whether any Achieved grades are towards the low end or the high end.
In any unit, the typical grade will be a "high" Achieved – that is, not quite a Merit.
Across the year a typical student, one who would have been at 50% under the old system, will generally get strong Achieved results, with the occasional Merit grade as well. If they are not at that level, while they may have all the credits on offer, they are not properly prepared for the next year.