Assessment Matters


Derived Grade Quality Assurance Processes
A2015/036 - 21 Sep 2015


Principal's Nominee
All teachers

Derived Grade Quality Assurance Processes

Note: This circular replaces Clarification of Derived Grade Processes A2015/25 – 02 July 2015


Candidates who:

  • through illness or misadventure, bereavement of a family member or close acquaintance, or national representative duties, are prevented from sitting examinations or otherwise presenting materials for external assessment; or
  • consider that their performance in an external assessment has been seriously impaired because of exceptional circumstances beyond their control,

may apply to NZQA, through their school, to be awarded a derived grade based exclusively on pre-existing, standard-specific evidence held by the school.

[Assessment (including Examination) Rules for Schools with Consent to Assess 2015 7.1.5 Derived Grade Process]

Schools’ processes and evidence for derived grades need to be sufficient to assure NZQA that the reported grade is based on pre-existing, valid, standard-specific evidence that meets the requirements of the standard.

Quality assurance – assessment tool

Examples of processes that could give the school confidence that the assessment tool used was fit for purpose.

  1. The evidence used is from a practice exam that, for example, had been:
    • developed “in-house” and critiqued in the same way that internal assessments are critiqued (e.g. it could be a practice exam based on modified papers from previous years); or
    • purchased from a secure source such as the subject association and checked against the achievement criteria of the standard; or
    • purchased from a commercial source and checked against the achievement criteria of the standard; or
    • provided by a colleague in another school and critiqued in the same way that internal assessments are critiqued; or
    • an on-line practice exam developed by NZQA or by NZQA in conjunction with another provider.
  2. The evidence is from an assignment or an end-of-topic test that was:
    • developed with similar rigour as any of the examples above; and
    • there is certainty that the student’s work was their own.

Quality assurance – assessment judgement

What quality assurance processes could give the school confidence and provide justification that the derived grade was based on valid, standard-specific evidence?

  1. Another subject-expert (i.e. “second pair of eyes”) had been involved in the marking, for example, through:
    • the use of panel-marking
    • a sample of grade boundaries from marked examination papers having been checked by a colleague.
  2. Alternatively, justification of the derived grade could, for example, be through:
    • external moderation agreement rates that provide confidence in teacher judgements
    • teacher involvement with external examination writing or marking for this standard or subject, which could provide confidence in teacher judgements
    • middle or senior management consultation on the teacher’s use of assessment schedules, NZQA exemplars and past student answer booklets that were used as benchmarks, to provide confidence in teacher judgements
    • comparison of previous years’ practice examination grades with NZQA external examination grades achieved for those same years, to provide confidence in the consistency and accuracy of the teacher’s judgements.

The alternatives are particularly useful where a “second pair of eyes” is not readily available.

For further information on derived grades: Derived Grade Process.


Please refer any enquiries relating to this circular to your School Relationship Manager.

School Relationship Manager
School Quality Assurance and Liaison
Telephone: 04 463 3000

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