Monday, July 17, 2006


A Moenui cat named Oscar received an Excellent in NCEA level two Mathematics even though he had clearly not achieved to that level in the national qualification. The marking scandal emerged after Moenui Area School's Head of Maths Rory Barrett boasted to the Herald that "..if I wanted to I could get my cat through just about any internal standard of NCEA."
Upon further investigation the Herald found that the teacher's cat Oscar Barrett had been entered in the NCEA and had been awarded the excellent grade as well as "achieved" grades in physical education and Drama but that the pet's mathematics performance in tests and assignments was not up to standard.

When the Herald confronted Barrett with its findings the teacher reluctantly admitted that he had marked some of the cat's answers as correct when they clearly had been incorrect.
"Oscar's a heck of a nice cat," said the embarrassed Barrett. "After the tests he would look at me with such a plaintive expression that I had to ask myself 'am I going to ruin this tabby's career over a few stupid questions?' I couldn't do it so I asked him some other stuff he seemed to understand perfectly. I then adjusted his grade accordingly."
A re-marking of Oscar's work by NZQA moderators showed that the cat had not achieved beyond level one standard in algebra and geometry.
Meanwhile, investigations into Oscar's marks in Physical Education and Drama showed them to be entirely in order. His physical education teacher described the cat as being "an exceptionally talented gymnast and all-round athlete whose lack of theoretical knowledge prevented him from achieving an excellent."
Drama teacher Liz Bannoush described Oscar as a "method" actor at heart with "an extraordinary ability to physicalise emotion. "His Tennesee Williams presentation was without peer," said Bannoush. "Ï've never seen a student display such a deep understanding of the central themes in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
The marking scandal has caused a storm at the school and nationally. National Education spokesperson Bill English said that "the Minister in charge ought to be fed to the dogs."
"This case at Moenui could well be the tip of the iceberg," said Mr English. "I am following up on rumours that a Brookby budgerigar gained an excellent in Japanese and there is strong evidence that a goldfish in the north was awarded a merit grade in Philosophy. The fact that the award was made at a decile one school suggests something fishy."

Previous NCEA story


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