A review of the NCEA will ask if all teenagers need level one of the qualification and whether schools are over-assessing their students, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
Mr Hipkins today announced terms of reference for the review by the Education Ministry next year, saying it would refine and strengthen the qualification.
"The introduction of NCEA represented a significant modernisation of the system of secondary school assessment. However, the full potential of NCEA has yet to be fully realised," he said.
Mr Hipkins said the review would consider overassessment, the importance of teaching skills such as resilience and creativity, and the role of each level of the NCEA.
"Students and teachers have told us overassessment is a real issue and impacts their wellbeing and workload. This and the importance of teaching life skills in schools, such as resilience, creativity, communication and adaptability, will form part of the review," he said.
"The review will also look at the role of each level of NCEA, particularly the structure and relevance of NCEA level one and whether all young people should attempt it."
The National Certificates of Educational Achievement were phased in from 2002. Students could achieve the certificate at level one, two or three by completing sufficient individual achievement or unit standards through a mix of internal assessment and external exams.
In 2015, a panel of school principals convened by the Qualifications Authority to review the NCEA said it was a good qualification, but needed more promotion.
However, last year RNZ News reported that independent testing found many teens who achieved level two of the NCEA were not functionally literate or numerate. The results prompted the Education Ministry to tell the government that the NCEA's literacy and numeracy requirements should be changed or replaced altogether with a separate test.
The terms of reference for next year's review said the process could undermine confidence in the NCEA because of discussion of areas for improvement.
It said the use of individual standards as the basis for assessment would not be considered by the review.