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Increasing the dependability of overall teacher judgments

On this page, guidance is given on ways to increase the dependability of judgments and the students' role in this. Included in the section are a summary of considerations when making OTJs, and questions which schools can use for discussion in staff, department or syndicate meetings.

Increasing the dependability of evidence from all sources is fundamental to reaching a valid and defensible OTJ.

Students’ performance will vary from day to day depending on:

  • the nature of the assessment task
  • the conditions in which the assessment is undertaken
  • the purpose of the assessment
  • the student’s preparation
  • the student’s engagement and motivation.

When teachers experience some degree of inconsistency with assessment information, they should inquire into this further. If the inconsistency cannot be explained by normal variation in students’ performance, then there may be a need to collect further information in order to reach robust judgments.


Moderation can help to improve the dependability of an OTJ, and of the evidence that informs and supports it. Teachers should moderate both their assessments and their overall judgments in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum. This process is discussed in more detail in the Moderation section of this site.

Student participation

Students should actively participate throughout the assessment process and in determining their OTJ. They may be encouraged to comment on or even question the OTJ if they believe evidence of their learning supports a different judgment.

This is a vitally important characteristic of effective assessment for learning.

It benefits the students' assessment capability by clarifying what they know, understand and can do, and what they need to learn next. All students can participate in the assessment process to some degree. As their assessment capability grows and develops, they can become more and more actively involved.

Including the students in the judgment-making process will also give them confidence to talk about their achievement and progress with their parents, family and whānau.

Involving students – an example illustrates how, through conversation, year 5–6 students become clearer about their learning, progress, and achievement.


  • Making judgments involves both student and teacher.
  • Evidence is collected cumulatively over the year, in contexts across the curriculum and is brought together to judge achievement in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum.  
  • There is a need for information from a range of assessment approaches so that decisions are dependable.
  • An overall teacher judgment is used to determine where a student's achievement sits in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum.
  • Moderation improves both the dependability of OTJs and the evidence that supports them.
  • Teacher curriculum and pedagogical content knowledge is essential for making a dependable OTJ.
  • Overall teacher judgments, constructed with students, are the basis of the reporting in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum.   

Questions for discussion

  • How might I involve students in the process of making OTJs in my classroom?
  • How much information might I need to determine an OTJ?
  • How might I support the judgments I make and how dependable are they?
  • What do I need to do to increase the dependability of my judgments?
  • How does our school manage moderation of OTJs?

The PaCT

The Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) supports dependable teacher judgments on student progress and achievement in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum. The richly-illustrated frameworks break down mathematics, reading and writing into different aspects and prompt teachers to notice what students know and can do. The engine of the PaCT captures teacher judgments on the aspects and recommends an overall judgment that teachers can confirm or review.

The PaCT helps overcome the difficulty of making overall judgments for students that achieve highly in some aspects of mathematics, reading and writing but not in others.

The PaCT also supports teaching and learning. The frameworks and illustrations improve understanding of the curriculum and encourage moderation processes within a school. 

If you are interested in using the PaCT go to curriculumprogresstools.education.govt.nz or contact progress.tools@education.govt.nz