Students insulted on returned New Zealand exam papers

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

A pile of returned and marked NCEA exam booklets. Photograph by Gabriel Pollard.

Two New Zealand students have been insulted when their exam papers were returned to them with rude remarks on them. However one student received a positive comment on a paper that he got a merit in, the second highest mark possible.

The two students were from Cashmere High School and both participating in the 2006 level three NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) external exams.

Josh Potter, 17-years-old, was one of the students who were insulted. When Mr Potter opened the package containing his exam papers he saw on his not-achieved media studies paper, the large words: "GOOD ONE DICK!!" written in blue felt tip pen. When he first saw it he said that he had to do a double take, "It is not the right sort of thing to be seeing on your exams."

"I was quite surprised. When I told my dad, he thought it was a joke at first but then he was quite shocked," Mr Potter said.

The other student, Sanjay Narayan, had a nice compliment on one of his papers he passed: "NICE ONE MATE," and the other paper, which he failed, said: "You useless sack of poo." The two papers were in statistics and calculus.

The two boys say that they did not hand in the papers with the words written on them. NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority) also confirmed this because markers had a duty to report any broken rules, which includes writing notes on exam papers.

Mr Potter's and Mr Narayan's parents have both complained to the NZQA, the authority that manages NCEA.

Mr Potter's mother said: "Luckily, Josh is the sort of person who has taken it quite well, but imagine if it had gone to a student who was more sensitive."

Mr Potter said that neither he, nor his friends, wrote the messages.

NZQA has asked for all of the papers from both of the students as they are launching their own investigation into the "serious issue." NZQA are already confident that it was not performed by a marker, which has raised concerns by Mr Potter, who asks how easy it would be for someone to gain unauthorized access to an exam, and tamper with it. NZQA declined to comment on this issue.

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