Provisional NCEA pass rates have fallen for a third straight year due to the flow-on effects from the Covid-19 pandemic, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) says.

The disappointing assessment follows online exam problems last year, causing students to lose their progress halfway through, while others were unable to log on.

“[It’s] a little bit hard to understand why that was a problem for NZQA at the time,” Secondary Principals’ Council chairwoman Kate Gainsford said.

The NZQA said exams ran smoothly overall and was confident there wouldn’t be similar problems in 2024.

“I would expect as a result of [the problems] last year that we don’t encounter anything like that again in 2024,” Gainsford said.

The achievement slump has been explained as a flow-on effect for students who experienced three years of Covid-19 disruption.

Enrolments for summer school were at their highest rate, with more than 2500 young people signed up for the free course to get them across the line.

“If you’re short about 10 credits, give us a ring or go online and register,” Te Kura chief executive Te Rina Leonard said.

“You don’t have to talk to anyone.”

Gainsford encouraged students who missed out to take up the classes.

“All is not lost, even for those students who get a disappointing result,” she said.

“Gone are the days where a whole year’s work had to be repeated in order to get one mark to get a qualification.”