National Moderator's Reports

Feb 2020

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

To award Excellence at Level 1, the depth of detail and supporting evidence should reflect the expectations at level 6 of the curriculum. This may be evidenced using specific names, titles, dates, and carefully selected quotes and statistics, to support the general explanation provided.

At levels 2 and 3, evidence at Excellence should be succinct and concise, with sufficient depth to reflect the step up between the grade levels. Evidence that concisely articulates the argument being made, demonstrates the complexity of the past, and effectively selects and uses supporting evidence, is most likely to reflect understanding at Excellence.

For 91437, the Excellence criteria for the standard require students to draw their own conclusions by analysing which of the perspectives, based on the evidence, is the most valid overall. This should be more than the personal feelings of the student and should extend beyond a summary or comparison of the perspectives examined.

Due to the many different aspects of evidence required, assessors have correctly identified that the holistic judgement of evidence is most appropriately used for the research standards (91001, 91229, 91434). In general, assessor judgements would be more consistent with the national standard if further depth had been provided by students in their planning evidence. The clarification documents on the NZQA History web page offer further explanation around the various tasks associated with research planning at each of the grade levels.

To award Excellence in the research standard, most of the evidence provided by the student should reflect the “comprehensive” descriptor used in the achievement standard and be at a depth appropriate to the respective curriculum level. However, it is the annotations and evaluation that carry the most weight when making an Excellence judgement. ‘Comprehensive’ evidence for both these aspects of the standard would include specific examples to support the generalisations made.

Collecting evidence

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Opportunities are encouraged that allow students to collect evidence through different modes, such as blogs, video clips, etc. Such opportunities allow students to have agency on how best to demonstrate what they know.

In History the ‘historical event of significance to New Zealand standards’ is most commonly assessed using different modes, particularly at levels 1 and 2 (91001, 91230). Some successful examples of different modes that have been provided for moderation this year include:

  • 91002: a museum presentation board, a series of diary entries, a radio segment 
  • 91230/91435: a webpage, a seminar.

Consideration needs to be given to the mode of presentation used to ensure that it allows for achievement at Merit and Excellence. For example, a slideshow presentation can, at times, make it difficult for students to reach the requirement to demonstrate an ‘in-depth’ (Merit) or ‘comprehensive’ (Excellence) understanding.

If students create websites, it is helpful if access is disabled after marking and moderation have occurred. It has become increasingly easy for students across the country to access other students’ work online. This is creating significant authenticity issues. 

For external moderation, up to 8 student samples are required. Therefore, 8 websites could have their content downloaded, screen captured, or printed, in case the standard is selected for external moderation the following year.

For the research standard at each level (91001, 91229, and 91434) there has been a positive trend of an increasing number of digital submissions of evidence. For example, online templates, Word documents with the ‘comment’ function being used for student annotations, 365Notebook, or Google docs, have successfully been used to digitally collect evidence for these standards.

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 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.

The volume of evidence produced by many students for the History internally assessed standards, is often well in excess of the expectations of any level of NCEA. This quantity of evidence could negatively impact on student wellbeing. 

Limiting the number of research questions or sources collected for the research standards (91001, 91229, 91434), providing word limits, or limiting the number of different perspectives that a student analyses (91004, 91230, 91434), may help to reduce the volume of evidence produced. This could also help to reduce the workload pressures for students and teachers.

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

Integrated assessment

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A growing number of schools have begun to adopt an integrated approach to the delivery of History internal standards. In particular, it has proven successful to pair the ‘historical event of significance to New Zealand’ and the ‘perspectives’ standards at level 2 (91230 and 91232), and level 3 (91435 and 91437).

Schools that have combined the standards identified above have taken advantage of the overlap between the standards, reduced the assessment workload, and in many instances it has helped students to demonstrate their understanding of the complex and contested nature of historical events.

The History internally assessed standards can also be integrated across subjects. Some examples where this has been successful include pairing with Social Studies or English standards.

When undertaking innovative integrated assessments across subjects, it is important that the context is historical, to ensure the requirements of the History standard are being adequately addressed.

Repeated topics

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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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