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Moderation purposes

Moderation is the process of teachers sharing, working through and agreeing their understandings of expected curriculum levels of student achievement and progress. It supports teachers to compare their own judgments to either confirm or adjust them. Teachers collaborate to establish a shared understanding of what quality evidence looks like. 

Moderation is concerned with the consistency, comparability and fairness of professional judgments about the levels demonstrated by students.” (Maxwell 2002)

Comparable judgments result from teachers understanding of the curriculum, and agreeing on a level or benchmark.

What should be moderated?

All assessment decisions should be moderated if there are elements of teacher judgment about curriculum expectations involved. These include:

  • running records
  • writing assessments
  • numeracy assessments
  • LPF and PaCT 
  • all answers in common assessments which are not multi-choice
  • internal assessments in NCEA
  • assessment processes and administration 

In these web pages we describe the formal processes of moderation. However, some moderation processes will be conducted more informally than others. Schools and Kāhui Ako will make their own decisions on this, depending on their needs. The essence is that there is common understanding of how to assess progress and achievement within and across schools.  

Moderation helps teachers to make dependable, evidence-based decisions

Moderation helps teachers to increase the dependability of the assessment information they gather and the judgments they make about student learning in the curriculum. Dependable assessment information is:

  • valid (the assessment accurately measures what they want it to measure)
  • reliable (results can be repeated over time and in other assessments).

Moderation improves the decisions teachers make about student learning. It encourages the development of teachers’ curriculum and assessment knowledge, self-review skills and it informs curriculum design.

Teachers' interpretation or judgment is informed by professional knowledge, about content and pedagogy as well as social, cultural and contextual knowledge. Teachers vary in their beliefs, understandings, expectations about, and judgments of, student learning. When they discuss samples of work with other teachers during moderation processes, their own knowledge deepens, and they establish collaborative practices. 

Moderation leads to consistency

There is a need for consistency of teacher judgments:

  • over time – same evidence viewed at different times or different contexts leading to same judgment by same teacher
  • against curriculum levels or standards – equivalent application across different types of evidence
  • by a teacher - between his/her students
  • between teachers – within the same school and different schools 
  • between teaching years and levels.

Moderation leads to interpreting and applying levels or benchmarks in equivalent ways, and confirming teachers’ judgments about their students’ work.

Making consistent, reliable and valid decisions across different points in time is important when schools report on student progress, make decisions on school targets and resourcing, or compare cohort data with historical information.

All schools experience variables that challenge the consistency of practice such as staff changes, changes in student numbers or changing education demands. Consistent moderation over time can prevent this in a number of ways.

  • Always applying the same standardised criteria ensures consistency over time.
  • Where nationally standardised criteria or exemplars are available, these become the same external reference used each year or each time. 
  • To augment this approach schools add their own school-based student samples to reflect local flavour, contexts, tikanga or cultural richness to the exemplar collection.
  • Moderators will change over time but the same criteria and associated references will remain and continue to guide decisions.

The benefits of moderation

The processes of moderation are beneficial to those involved at all levels of the school. 

The benefits of involving students in moderation

  • When students are actively involved they can participate in selecting evidence (e.g. samples of their work) that best demonstrate the intended learning outcomes.
  • The process of assessment develops students’ understanding of the desired outcomes and success criteria.
  • Making judgments is closely linked to developing the skills of self and peer-assessment.
  • This can lead to shared expectations of learning and understandings of standards between teachers and students.
  • Greater student confidence in teacher judgments.
  • Provides greater transparency of the assessment process.

The benefits of moderation for teachers

  • Brings together collective wisdom, resulting in greater consistency of judgment, and focused teaching.
  • Provides greater confidence in teacher judgments and assurance that judgments are consistent with other professionals.
  • Leads to shared expectations of learning and understandings of levels and progression of learning.
  • Develops deeper understandings about content and progressions of learning.
  • Improves quality of assessment.
  • Alignment of expectations and judgments with curriculum expectations or progressions, and hence improved teaching and learning.
  • Assurance to parents and others that interpretations of students’ progress and achievement are in line with other professionals.

The benefits of moderation for school leaders and Boards of Trustees

  • Greater confidence in teachers’ judgments and assurance that judgments are consistent within and across schools .
  • Reliable information is used to make teaching and learning decisions, which helps when communicating with other professional agencies.
  • Dependable information can be confidently discussed with parents, families and whānau.
  • Dependable achievement information influences strategic directions, including target setting, budget allocation and professional development planning.

The benefits of moderation for Kāhui Ako

  • The wide range of schools represented in the Kāhui Ako means that teachers can work to clearly define and understand the progressions of learning from year 1 (or before) through to year 13. It is highly recommended that teachers across the year levels are involved in moderation where applicable.