National Moderator's Reports

February 2020

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Download PDF: Art History National Moderator's Report (PDF, 118KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Art History standards in 2019.

It does not clarify specific standards but provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Awarding Excellence

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When making judgement for Excellence, it needs to be ensured that all indicators of the Excellence criteria in the standard have been fully addressed. These are outlined in the Explanatory notes. The quality of evidence provided should also reflect the curriculum level.  If the evidence demonstrates that the Excellence criteria have been only partially met, then the grade awarded cannot be Excellence. This is critical in distinguishing between high Merit and Excellence.

Consideration also needs to be given to the overall submission, such as succinctness and clarity.

Excellence for the Level 3 Art History standards requires perceptive understanding, for which relevant and specific supporting evidence are critical. Any contextual information should be relevant to the requirements of the standard to provide evidence towards Excellence.  In order to demonstrate perception a student needs to provide insight into the specific aspect of Art History the standard addresses. Generalised information about the time-period or biographical information does not demonstrate perception.

An evaluative or insightful commentary needs to be demonstrated with some consistency, and without irrelevant or inaccurate information that detracts from the perception of the response. In standards that require the examination of art works, responses at Excellence level for at least two art works are required to award Excellence for the standard.

Collecting evidence

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It is encouraging to see evidence of opportunities that allow students to collect assessment evidence through different modes such as blogs, video clips, etc. This reflects an increasingly wide range of skills and knowledge being developed as well as student agency in learning contexts.

Annotations of art works continued to be popular evidence in moderation submissions in 2019. Annotations provide useful evidence for standards that require the examination of art works. However, these annotations need to take the form or expanded statements that include the level of description and explanation required at each level of the curriculum. Higher levels of achievement at Level 2 require a more sustained commentary than is typically evident in annotations alone, as do responses at Level 3.

Student wellbeing

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Where students are guided in how to present their evidence succinctly, the quality of their responses improves. When students are aware of the concept that quantity is not an indicator of quality, this also helps to reduce workload pressures.

In 2019 there was a continuation of students at times producing a far greater volume of evidence than is needed to meet the standard. This was most common for 91485 and 91487. Limiting the examination of art works to no more than 3 art works helps to constrain workload.

For 91485, restricting the examination to the aspects of style that were most significantly impacted rather than attempting to cover the stylistic elements, enables students to provide more concise and meaningful responses.

For 91487 encouraging the examination of two or three significant values placed on the art works rather than attempting to cover all possible values is useful in restricting the length and improving the quality of responses.

In terms of student wellbeing, it is also timely to consider the importance of positive contexts and guidance regarding potentially ‘dark themes’ or inappropriate material. While the need for self-expression and realism is not disputed, the mental and physical wellbeing of students in their learning and assessment should be a significant consideration in programmes.

Assessor Support

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The Best Practice Workshops (online and face-to-face) offered by the Assessment and Moderation Team continue to be viewed by the sector as significantly contributing to improved assessor practice:

"The workshop helped to review my own knowledge, and great to share ideas."

"It was great having time to challenge my thinking in assessment."

Based on the success of the ‘on request’ model and the ability to have targeted support, the Assessment and Moderation Team will continue delivering this support model in 2020. Workshops or presentation slots can be requested to provide targeted support to regional or national audiences.

Additionally, we will continue to run the generic Transforming Assessment Praxis Programme, an online programme which helps assessors learn about re-contextualising assessment resources and collecting evidence in different ways to better meet the needs of their learners.

More detailed information, including how to request or register for a workshop, can be found on our Best Practice Workshop pages or by emailing


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Outcome statements in external moderation reports

In 2017, moderation report outcome statements changed from ‘Confidence’ statements to ‘Consistency’ statements, as explained in an NZQA Circular at the time.

The previous FOUR ‘Confidence’ statements were changed to THREE Consistency statements. This reduction in the number of categories of statement has, in some cases, resulted in moderation report outcomes previously noted as ‘Confident’ now being noted as ‘Not Yet Consistent’.

It is important to recognise that ‘Not Yet Consistent’ does not imply major issues on the part of the assessor, but that the aspects highlighted can be easily addressed through the advice given in the report.

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