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Moderation is the process of teachers sharing their expectations and understanding of standards with each other in order to improve the consistency of their decisions about student learning.
Making reliable, valid, evidence-based decisions
Moderation helps teachers to increase the dependability of the assessment information they gather. This improves the decisions they make about student learning. Teacher-guided moderation between students helps them to develop their skills of self and peer-assessment.
This has a direct, positive impact on teaching and learning as both teacher and student develop shared expectations and understanding of what quality work looks like and what criteria define it. Both students’ and teachers’ assessment capability can be enhanced.
This information can also encourage the development of teachers’ self-review skills and inform professional development decision-making.
Making consistent decisions over time
Making consistent, reliable and valid decisions across different points in time is important when schools report student progress or compare cohort data with historical information.
Assessment judgments can change over time. This is called ‘assessment creep’. 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. These exemplars would be used within the practice phase of the moderation process.
- Moderators will change over time but the same criteria and associated references will remain and continue to guide decisions.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reliability, validity 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.