National Moderator's Reports

Mar 2019

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Download PDF: Drama National Moderator's Report (PDF, 260KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Drama standards in 2018.

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


Volume of Evidence Produced

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Some students produce an excessive volume of evidence. Students are not required to submit evidence beyond the criteria of the standard. It is appropriate for teachers to guide students to produce succinct evidence in response to the achievement criteria of the standard.

Successful yet concise outcomes have resulted where word or page limits were provided to students in terms of supporting evidence. For example, statements of intentions for performance and devising work should be achievable, concise and not be more than one to two pages. When supporting evidence is provided verbally, time limits between one and three minutes are sufficient for the student to deliver the required evidence.

Recommended durations for scripted, theatre form and devising work can be found within the Ministry of Education Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) assessment resources. For example, group devised drama at all levels should be refined and edited to be within a 5-8-minute timeframe.

Production standards do not require the entire text to be performed. Successful student work has typically shown that an extract of an appropriate text is sufficient for assessment for these standards.

Excellence at Level 3

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There is some inconsistency in awarding Excellence. When making assessor decisions regarding Excellence, consideration needs to be given to the overall quality of the evidence. This is critical when making a judgement at the Merit/Excellence boundary.

Clarifications and Exemplars on the Drama NZQA subject page provide guidance to ensure that assessor decisions for Excellence are at the national standard. Work at this level is typically innovative, detailed, and shows careful consideration of the potential impact on a ‘fresh’ audience.

Solo scripted performance and devising work needs to be carefully structured to be engaging and convincing for a live theatre context. Successful students were able to give evidence of engagement and the ability to be convincing, for example when they conveyed ‘other’ characters’ presences, and convinced the audience by their responsiveness that someone else is part of the situation.

Students who reached Excellence for 91513 (3.2) framed their concept to be realisable via a 6-8 minute drama. They developed and refined dramatic elements and selected conventions to powerfully communicate meaning. They sequenced and shaped a highly engaging piece of drama, so the concept was realised in a manner that had impact. Control of dramatic pace was also evident.

Group Work

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Group work is an acceptable form of assessment, if appropriate to the standard. When submitting group work for moderation, the teacher needs to ensure there is evidence that each student has met the standard.

The contribution of each student can be tracked and presented in a variety of ways, such as written record of teacher observation, the division of workload into clearly defined tasks, a student worklog or video diary, recordings of teacher/student conferences, etc.

When facilitating assessment for the devising drama standards, teachers need to verify that students have actively participated in the process. This does not constitute evidence beyond the Achieved grade. Where it was evident in moderation that teachers had verified students’ participation in all components of the devising process, effective facilitation for devising in group situations was noted. 

Integrated Assessment of Standards

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This refers to assessing multiple standards via one submission of student evidence. The assessment of standards may be integrated either within a subject or across subjects.

For external moderation, if the assessment is across subjects and the student evidence is physical, it can be sent on to the next subject moderator/s if required. If it is an online submission, the student evidence can be uploaded for each standard being moderated.

Combining standards within Drama can be a seamless approach to assessment. It is important to ensure that students are clear about the requirements and skills they are being assessed on for each standard. Where teachers provided students a clear framework from which to devise and perform drama, theatre form and devising standards were successfully combined.

While evidence showing cross subject integration of standards has not yet been submitted for moderation, carefully selected Education for Sustainability and History Achievement Standards may provide rich assessment contexts when combined with the devising standards. Teachers need to collaborate with other subject experts to ensure that all requirements of the standard are met.

Wellbeing and Contexts for Devising

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Issues evident through moderation indicate teachers need to exercise caution when students wish to explore contexts that involve difficult themes, such as mental illness, violence and other traumatic material. While trauma stories can evoke strong emotion in the audience, moderation reveals that such work often does not make for convincing and effective devised drama.

Where material was deemed appropriate and dramatically viable, effective outcomes resulted where teachers have guided students to avoid clichéd drama or the ‘romanticising’ of trauma.

Effective strategies for use in the devising process have included the use of frame distance, time shifts, non-naturalism and metaphor to generate roles and dramatic action that enabled students and audience to engage with such material in constructive and ethical ways.

Such exploration, where not supported by effective guidance, could be harmful to student, teacher, school and audience wellbeing.

Drama teachers need to maintain boundaries that are consistent with Our Code Our Standards: Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession and ensure emotional safety for all involved. Liaison with the school guidance counsellor may clarify whether the material is appropriate. Alternatively, teachers may restrict the use of these contexts altogether.

The Ministry of Education provides advice to schools in this document regarding suicide prevention and traumatic incidents.

Musical Theatre

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Within musical theatre contexts, effective assessors show awareness that the criteria for a substantial acting (speaking) role for level 2 and 3 production standards are seldom met, and that singing and choreographic sequences may be assessed by Dance and Music Achievement Standards.

Playing Against Gender

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The depiction of gender will depend on the dramatic context and/or playwright’s intention. Where a shift in gender roles does not support the playwright’s intention, teachers need to be aware that evidence seen in moderation of playing against gender may reduce the effectiveness of students’ work.

Use of Accent

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Evidence seen in moderation of students using accent skilfully and convincingly indicates they are supporting and enhancing the interpretation and communication of the scripted text. This evidence supports the awarding of Merit and Excellence when assessing Drama techniques and production standards.

Video Evidence and the NZQA External Moderation Application

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When submitting external moderation, it is helpful to provide a link to students’ video evidence stored on the school’s digital platform (Google Drive, Office 365 etc.) rather than manually uploading individual video files to the Learner Evidence section.

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