NCEA stands for national certificates of educational achievement. Run by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), they provide national qualifications for senior secondary students in traditional curriculum subjects and alternative programs. In years 11 to 13, students usually progress through NCEA levels one to three. Skills and knowledge are assessed against standards. Internal (by a school’s teachers) and external assessments are used to measure how well students meet the standards and to award credits towards NCEA certificates. Credits gained can count towards more than one relevant certificate. High achievement is recognised with merit and excellence endorsements at each level.