Reconsideration of an EER report

1.    What is a reconsideration?

a.  A “reconsideration” provides an independent check on the validity of one of or both of the statements of confidence reached by NZQA in a finalised EER report. It aims to establish if there were process failures, or errors fact or judgement.  The next step is to address the question of whether the process failure and / or error result in the need to change any statement of confidence.

b.  The statements of confidence are the primary object of a reconsideration. Content of sections of the report, and process failures relating to those sections, will be relevant if they can be shown to lead to any of the statements of confidence.

c.  The formal criteria for reconsideration are set out in Rule 9 of the Quality Assurance (including External Evaluation and Review (EER)) Rules 2016 (“EER Rules”), a copy of which is in the Appendix. These guidelines explain and expand upon the process set out in Rule 9.

2.    What happens in a reconsideration?

a.  A reconsideration comprises two main stages: an independent review of the statements of confidence (the “review”) based on any process failures or errors fact or judgement., and an assessment carried out by the Deputy Chief Executive Quality Assurance (“DCE QA”) on behalf of NZQA of any necessary changes to the EER report as a consequence of the findings in the review.  

b.  Review: Where the request for a reconsideration meets the requirements of Rule 9.1 (section 7 below), NZQA appoints an independent reviewer, in the sense of this person having no prior involvement in the process of the EER being considered. This reviewer reaches an independent professional view as to whether there were process failures in finalising the report, or errors of fact or judgment made in the finalised report and as to whether they result in any need to change any statement of confidence. The reviewer summarises his or her findings on this question in a draft report, which is shared with NZQA and the TEO for comment. After considering any comments received from these two parties, the reviewer will finalise his or her report.

c.  Outcome: The DCE QA considers the finalised reconsideration report to decide what further actions need to be taken in order to complete the EER process, including consideration of any changes that may be needed to the EER report and engaging with the TEO on those changes.

3.    What are the grounds for a reconsideration?

a.  Requests for reconsideration must relate to the finalised EER report sent to the TEO by NZQA.

b.  All requests for reconsideration must be based on one or more of the following:

(i)  Process failures in finalising the report;

(ii)  Errors of fact in the finalised report;

(iii)  Errors of judgement in the finalised report.

4.    What are process failures?

a.  In the context of a reconsideration, a process failure must:

(i)  Constitute a clear breach of the published NZQA “Policies and Guidelines for the Conduct of External Evaluation and Review”; and/or
(ii)  Constitute a clear breach of one or more of the EER Rules; and/or
(iii)  Constitute a clear breach of natural justice or fairness.

b.  If a process failure is found, but is not found to necessitate a change to any of the statements of confidence (whether by itself or in conjunction with any errors of fact or judgement), then NZQA will address this as an opportunity for process improvement.

5.    What are errors of fact?

a.  In the context of a reconsideration, an error of fact must:

(i)  Be based on reliable evidence which, if it relates to educational performance data, was data made available to the evaluation team at or before the EER report was finalised;
(ii)  Have been raised with NZQA during the process leading to the final report; and
(iii)  Be significant enough to require a change to any statement of confidence (whether by itself or in conjunction with any process failure or errors of judgement).

b.  If an error of fact is confirmed, but is not found to have affected the statements of confidence (whether by itself or in conjunction with any process failure or errors of judgement), then this will be corrected in the finalised report, and a copy of the revised report sent to the TEO before publication.

6.    What are errors of judgment?

a.  In the context of a reconsideration, an error of judgment involves an error of logic or reasoning that can be identified and relates to a statement which expresses NZQA’s evaluation of the quality, value, or significance of the TEO’s educational performance, or its capability in self-assessment.  Where this is the case, the error is either:

(i)  Significant enough to require a change in any statement of confidence (whether by itself or in conjunction with any process failure or error of fact); or
(ii)  Not sufficiently material to affect the statements of confidence (whether by itself or in conjunction with any process failure or errors of fact). This error will be corrected in the finalised report but the statements of confidence will not be changed.

b.  A copy of the revised report is then sent to the TEO before publication. 

7.    How does a TEO request a reconsideration?

a.  Any request for reconsideration must be sent directly to the Office of DCE (QA).  The request must:

(i)  Be in writing, on the official letterhead of the TEO, and signed by the Chief Executive (or equivalent) of the organisation;
(ii)  Clearly state the process failures, and / or errors of fact or judgment, alleged to have been made in the finalised report;
(iii)  Be accompanied by sufficient information and evidence to support each allegation, as well as information which shows that the TEO had raised the alleged process failures, and / or errors of fact or judgment with NZQA prior to receiving the finalised report;
(iv)  Advise NZQA of the name and contact details of a nominated TEO representative whom NZQA should liaise with in regards to the reconsideration; and
(v)  Be received by NZQA no later than 10 working days after the finalised report had been sent to the TEO. Any variations to this timeline must be approved in advance by the Manager Evaluation.

b.  The request can be sent by email to: eer@nzqa.govt.nz or by courier to:
Deputy Chief Executive
Quality Assurance Division
New Zealand Qualifications Authority
Level 13
125 The Terrace
Wellington

c.  NZQA will acknowledge receipt of all reconsideration applications within 2 working days.

8.    Who carries out the independent review?

a.  Once an application has been acknowledged, NZQA will proceed to confirm to the TEO that the application meets the prerequisites set out in paragraph 7 (a).

b.  Where the application meets those prerequisites NZQA will proceed to engage a reviewer to carry out the reconsideration.

c.  NZQA will ensure that the reviewer:

(i)  Is appropriately experienced in the field of education evaluation;
(ii)  Has not been previously involved in the EER case that is being reconsidered; and
(iii)  Has no unmanageable conflicts of interest with the TEO seeking a reconsideration.

d.  At the same time, NZQA will also make direct contact with the TEO and attempt to reach agreement on the processes and timing that will be followed in the course of this reconsideration (EER Reconsideration Rules 9.4 and 9.5).

9.    What does the independent reviewer produce?

a.  All independent reviews result in a succinct report. The report follows a standard format:

(i)  Terms of reference: a policy-level statement of what he or she has been asked to do, and an attestation of their competence to do so;
(ii)  The grounds of the requested reconsideration;
(iii)  Case background: account of EER outcome, including current statements of confidence, and description of the process leading to the report’s finalisation (if necessary);
(iv)  The application: summary of the key concerns expressed by the TEO in its reconsideration application; and
(v)  Findings: analysis and evaluation opinion made in relation to each of the TEO’s concerns. The reviewer’s conclusions are limited as to whether, in his or her professional opinion, there have been process failures, and/ or errors of fact or judgement, and whether they result in a need to change any of the statements of confidence.

10.    How is the reconsideration process completed?

a.  The independent reviewer’s report is submitted in draft to NZQA and the applicant TEO for comment. Both parties are invited to provide a response within a set timeframe. When that comment has been received and considered the independent reviewer will finalise his or her report. The finalised report is sent to the Office of the DCE (QA) and the TEO.

b.  The DCE (QA) may seek clarification of any details or findings made within the finalised report from the independent reviewer to inform the changes needed to the EER Report or any other action needed.

c.  The DCE (QA) will proceed (through the Evaluation Business Unit) to make the necessary changes to the report, and provide the changed report and an explanation of the changes to the TEO for comment within a set time.  Any comment provided by the TEO will be taken into account prior to producing the post-reconsideration final report and publishing it on the TEO’s provider page on the NZQA website, and this will complete the EER process.

11.    How much does a reconsideration cost?

a.  The fee for a reconsideration is based on the number of hours involved by all NZQA personnel in managing, facilitating and carrying out the reconsideration and its associated processes, at the rate of $150 per hour + GST.

b.  This fee will be cancelled, however, where process failures or errors of fact or judgement were found and the EER report needed to be changed as a consequence.

Appendix

Content of Rule 9 of the EER Rules

9.    Reconsideration of an EER report

9.1   An institution or ITO may request a reconsideration of the statements of confidence reached by NZQA in a finalised report where the institution or ITO:

(a) sends the request in writing on the official letterhead of the institution or ITO and signed by its Chief Executive (or equivalent) and the request is received by NZQA no later than 10 working days after the finalised report has been sent to the institution or ITO;

(b) alleges there have been process failures in finalising the report, or errors of fact or judgement made in the finalised report;

(c) provides sufficient information and evidence to support the allegation, being information that the institution or ITO considers necessary to give a full understanding of the reasoning and circumstances leading to the request; and

(d) provides information which shows that during the process leading to the finalised report the institution or ITO had raised the allegation with NZQA.

9.2   Where any request for reconsideration involves educational performance data, the reconsideration will only involve the data that were available to NZQA at the date the EER report was finalised.

9.3   Where a request is received that meets the requirements of Rule 9.1, NZQA will appoint an appropriately experienced reviewer who has not been involved in that EER of the institution or ITO to conduct the reconsideration and produce a reconsideration report.

9.4    NZQA will attempt to reach agreement with the institution or ITO on the processes and timing towards finalising the reconsideration report.

9.5    Where reasonable attempts have been made and agreement is unable to be reached under Rule 9.4, NZQA will itself set the processes and timing towards finalisation of the reconsideration report and notify the institution or ITO.

9.6    Subject to Rule 9.7, once the reconsideration report is finalised and if it requires changes to be made to the EER report, the changed EER report will be provided to the institution or ITO prior to publication on the NZQA website.

9.7    Where NZQA accepts for good reason that the processes and timing should be varied for the reconsideration report, NZQA may set new processes and timing for that report.  

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