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Moderation principles

An overarching principle is that the needs of the students are paramount. Students and their parents and whānau must have confidence that schools are applying consistent benchmarks.

Moderation is most effective when:

  • it is conducted in a spirit of professional learning and quality improvement. Participants should expect some dissonance.
  • participants have appropriate knowledge of content area, assessment practices, and policies and procedures.
  • it is carried out regularly.
  • appropriate assessment tasks are decided on or designed aligned to actual learning
  • moderation processes lead to improved learning and assessment
  • as many teachers across the levels are involved, so that teachers gain an understanding of the progressions of learning within the subject
  • moderators outside of the school (e.g. facilitators, invited teachers from other schools) may be periodically involved to give independent feedback.
  • equivalent assessments are agreed, when desired, for cross-class or cross-school comparisons (e.g. Kāhui Ako for professional development purposes)

Key considerations

Judgments should be made on evidence

  • Teachers’ judgments should be based on adequate evidence of student learning, that is interpreted by reference to some framework of knowledge based on the curriculum.
  • Adequate evidence (visual, written, oral, physical construction of learning) means we should be sure that learning is embedded and not just a one-off or fluke occurrence. 

Judgments should be made after the collection of appropriate information

What evidence we collect and how we collect it, depends on our purpose, the type of information needed and the intended use.

  • For daily teaching and learning purposes one-off informal judgments might be used, e.g. observations during teaching, recorded comments in modelling books, student self-assessment, such as highlighting indicators on a matrix based on the curriculum.
  • For reporting and accountability purposes, judgments need to be more extensive, formal, consistent and comparable.
  • The evidence we collect should be fair and appropriate to ensure it promotes consistent and comparable judgments.

Judgments should be made on assessment information gathered thoughtfully and fairly using the appropriate tools. 

  • Does everyone have a shared understanding of the assessment tools that can be used? You can find appropriate assessment tools using the Assessment Tool Selector on the Assessment Online website. 
  • If using a standardised tool, are the administration processes the same across all classrooms?
  • Are we giving every student opportunities to demonstrate their current capability?
  • Have we made adjustments when necessary, such as enlarged copies of the assessment task for visually impaired, longer time frames for physically impaired students, choice of topics, use of first language?

Judgments should be consistent

  • Over time (same collection of evidence in Feb, May, Oct, Dec)? How do you know, and ensure, you reach consistent judgments of students’ work throughout the year?
  • Across students (same evidence about different students)? How do your judgments vary across gender, ethnicity, or various individual traits (behavioural, learning etc)? Should they vary?
  • Across classes or schools (same evidence)? How consistent are your judgments from year to year, across classes or schools? How could you find out?

Judgments are cultural and social

  • Assessment is not a simple matching exercise that occurs between a work sample and standards of achievement.
  • Teachers use social, cultural and contextual knowledge in forming judgments of student work. Teachers should be open to examining their beliefs and possible preconceptions.
  • Assessment is a complex task that is grounded in the social and cultural experiences of those involved. (Adie, 2008) 

Moderation supports assessment for learning

The moderation process engages teachers and students with the principles of assessment for learning.

Recognising where assessment for learning is interwoven through the moderation process is important so school leaders can value and emphasise this with teacher moderators.

Learning conversations

  • Teachers and students discuss their interpretations of achievement criteria using evidence.
  • Teachers and students compare samples of work with  exemplars.
  • Teachers and students clarify current skills, knowledge and understanding, past improvements and future learning goals.
  • Students receive dependable achievement information to act on.

Teaching conversations

  • Teachers learn from each other so curriculum and pedagogical content knowledge improves.
  • Professional learning needs can be identified when analysing the achievement data or through the moderation process.
  • Classroom teaching and learning programmes can be adjusted to meet student learning needs.
  • Individual and collective student achievement trends become clearer.

Partnership conversations

  • Evidence of learning can be confidently shared.
  • Reliable information is used to make teaching and learning decisions, which helps when communicating with other professional agencies.
  • Dependable information can be discussed with parents, families and whānau.
  • Dependable achievement information influences strategic directions, including budget allocation and professional development planning.

Assessment practice improves

  • System and individual teacher decisions are made with increased confidence. 
  • Reliabilityvalidity and fairness within the process are enhanced, so achievement decisions are defensible.
  • Dependable information is recorded and used for a variety of teaching, learning and reporting purposes.