National Moderator's Reports

February 2022

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Download PDF: Earth and Space Science National Moderator's Report (PDF, 140KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internally assessed Earth and Space Science standards in 2021. It provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Using Internal Assessment Evidence Gathering Templates

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The purpose of the Internal Assessment Evidence Gathering Template is to help teachers identify and record evidence of student achievement seen or heard within the teaching and learning programme. These templates do not signal a reduction in what is accepted for each grade, but rather a means of summarising evidence for reporting achievement when more formal assessment has not been possible.

These templates must be viewed in conjunction with the assessment advice forwarded to schools, in order to ensure that valid, credible and reliable assessment has occurred before the standard is awarded. Further guidance can be found here

Where evidence gathering templates have been used to identify evidence in lieu of a formal assessment opportunity, these should not be sent in for moderation.

Assessor Support

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The Best Practice Workshops (online and face-to-face) offered by Assessment and Moderation Services 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, Assessment and Moderation Services will continue delivering this support model in 2022. Workshops or presentation slots can be requested to provide targeted support to regional or national audiences.

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

New online subject-specific short courses introduced this year have complemented the traditional workshops. These can be accessed using your Education Sector Logon. Courses available for Earth and Space Science include:

  • Making Assessor Judgements (91189, 91412)
  • 91190 Extreme Environments
  • 91411 Socio-scientific issues.

Check the NCEA subject pages on the NZQA website regularly, as more online courses will be added throughout 2022.

More detailed information, including how to request or register for a workshop or online course, can be found on our Assessor Support pages or by emailing

Earth and Space Science Socio-scientific issues for 91188, 91411

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Socio-scientific issues need to be based around the relevant Earth and Space Science. While the societal responses to the issue are essential to achieving this standard, the Earth and Space Science is critical. Some work seen during moderation only gave a superficial coverage of the Earth and Space Science, which prevented learners from achieving higher grades.


Learners need to select, process and report on a relevant Earth and Space Science (ESS) issue. They also need to investigate an ESS issue, which is critical for achieving this standard. Learners also need to comment on the validity of the resources used. A stance or viewpoint on the issue is required, and the justification of the chosen stance is part of what is needed for Excellence. A minimum of two scientific resources should be researched, with comments on the validity of the resources used.


For this standard, an issue needs to be selected in an ESS context. The range of scientific information must be valid to the standard used by Earth and Space Scientists. A socio-scientific issue refers to an ESS context that has an impact on individuals and society. An explanation of the issue and its impact on individuals and society is required to achieve the standard. A detailed explanation of the Earth and Space Science, an evaluation of the issue, and justification of a personal response to the issue are required for Excellence.

91415 Investigate an aspect of astronomy

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At Level 3, moderators would expect to see 800-1000 words for this standard. Too much detail and copying from the resources has caused an authenticity issue in many of the reports seen during moderation.

The standard requires learners to look at an aspect of astronomy. To help learners, teachers can select specific parts of astronomical topics for them to investigate. Rather than look at Black Holes in total, learners could investigate a smaller topic based on Black Holes. For example, what happens when a Black Hole ‘eats’ a star.


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Changes to moderation requirement for 2022

Changes have been made to what schools are required to send in for moderation in 2022. Only 6 samples of student evidence must be sent in, one sample each at N, A, M, E, and two more from A, M, E. There will be no level 1 external moderation, unless requested by the school. 

Outcome statements in external Moderation Reports

Moderation Report outcomes are reported using consistency statements. These are not based on a numerical assessment of how many grades the moderator agreed with, but on a qualitative assessment of how the overall judgements align with the standard.

Consistent” is used where clear and accurate understanding of all (or most) aspects of the standard have been demonstrated. There may be some misunderstandings, but these are minor.

Not yet consistent” does not imply major issues on the part of the assessor. This is used where a clear understanding is shown of some aspects of the standard, and any issues can be identified and corrected using the feedforward in the Moderation Report.

Not consistent” is used where there are significant issues with the assessor decisions. This may include issues such as assessment materials not being at the correct curriculum level, or when the intent or criteria of the standard have been misunderstood.

Moderating assessment materials

For most moderation submissions in 2021, the assessment materials were not moderated, as most assessment tasks were variations of the NZQA Approved tasks developed by the Ministry of Education.

NZQA welcomes the submission of innovative assessment tasks. An overview of case studies showcasing how innovative assessment practices have been implemented in schools can be found on the Spotlights homepage, with the full case studies on the Future State section of the NZQA website.

Please click on this link to give your feedback about this report.

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