National Moderator's Reports

February 2023

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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 level 3 internally assessed standards in 2022. It also provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year and outlines the Assessor Support available for Languages.



Writing 3.5

This standard requires students to write a variety of text types to explore and justify varied ideas and perspectives. This involves evaluating and giving explanations or evidence to support their own ideas and perspectives, as well as supporting or challenging those of others.

In good evidence, students move beyond simply describing something into giving a viewpoint that clearly reflects their own opinions. For example, during a movie review students move beyond a plot summary and into discussing and sharing a personalised viewpoint on things like the themes, what they thought about the movie, whether they would recommend it and why, etc. Personal input rather than reciting facts/information is essential to fulfilling the standard.

There are serious concerns with this standard regarding the overuse of resources and/or too much teacher guidance. It is clear that much of the work is not an authentic reflection of the student’s own ability. Increasingly, texts are presented which are error free and using advanced and complex language reflecting native speaker competence. It is not an expectation for this standard, at any level, that the writing be error free, and this may indicate overuse of resources.

Resources should be aids to provide support, e.g. a dictionary to check a word, gender, script or spelling, verb charts to help with verb endings, books/internet to provide information. There should be no direct copy/cut and paste of any work.

Teacher feedback should be general and pertain to the standard criteria and not language correctness. Feedback (as per the Conditions of Assessment) is limited to once only. For example, students cannot come back to consult the teacher again after they have made changes following feedback.

Teachers can put measures in place to help ensure authenticity, for example:

  • Tracking the drafting phase of the writing
  • Comparing the level of the finished writing to other work that is done in class
  • Expecting students to cite any resources used to prepare the writing and checking these

The resources are learning aids. Therefore, it should be expected that a student can write at almost the same level if asked to reproduce part of the writing, without the resources present, in front of the teacher.

The evidence should be a reflection of the student’s learning in class and their ability to transfer this to the context of the assessment.

Presentation 3.2

This standard requires students to give a clear spoken presentation that communicates a critical response to stimulus material. This refers to a presentation which includes analysis, interpretation, or evaluation of the material.

Good evidence for this standard is concise and provides evidence of personal thought in the evaluation of the material. The evidence moves beyond simply providing information or describing something and into a personalised response to the stimulus.

Increasingly, presentations are technologically facilitated and not done in front of the class. There is no problem with this approach. Teachers must still ensure that all of the Conditions of Assessment are met. It would appear that many students are reading their presentation verbatim from the screen. This does not meet the condition that students will not read the presentation in its entirety. In this instance, teachers should ask students to step back from the screen so that their cue cards can be seen.

For the language content of the presentation, all authenticity concerns for the writing standard mentioned above are equally valid here. Teachers need to ensure that work is a true reflection of the student’s ability.

Interact 3.3

This standard requires students to interact to explore and justify varied ideas and perspectives in different situations. This involves finding out about, evaluating, and giving explanations or evidence to support or challenge both their own and others’ ideas and perspectives. Students need to show naturally occurring evidence of interactive strategies.

Good evidence for this standard is a genuine and authentic interaction where students have the opportunity to provide evidence of appropriate interactive strategies, used without prior rehearsal. Characteristics of such strategies include features such as seeking clarification, agreeing and disagreeing, pausing, and prompting. Increasingly, moderation shows evidence that this is happening.

The best evidence occurs in student/student interactions. In teacher led interactions, students often defer to the teacher maintaining control of the conversation. This usually means that they simply answer questions, which in turn means they are unable to provide evidence towards the criteria of (skilful) selection from a repertoire of language features and strategies to support the interaction. Asking and answering questions is evidence of only one strategy.

At times there is still clear evidence that the interaction has been scripted in advance – questions and answers are pre-learnt, or it is a learnt role play (for example, in some instances the partner provides the question the student is supposed to ask). Interactive strategies involve showing an ability to maintain and sustain the interaction in a genuine way. For example, students will respond to what is said by their partner rather than simply moving to the next question they have pre-learnt.

Even at Achieved level, this standard requires a degree of spontaneity (Explanatory Note 2).

Notes are not permitted for this standard. The conversation can happen outside the classroom as long as the interaction is videoed. However, as per the Presentation standard, the teacher needs to be able to verify that this condition is met and that notes are not being used. Increasingly, it appears that students not doing the interaction at school are consulting notes.

A large group of students can sometimes disadvantage a student. In large groups, students often defer to other members and there can be insufficient individual evidence provided. Students need to provide approximately four minutes of speaking across both interactions.

For both 3.3 and 3.5, there needs to be consistency in the level of language demonstrated across both pieces of evidence in order for a grade to be awarded. The student being assessed should be clearly labelled and identified. They should also be sufficiently audible and clear for the moderator to be able to identify and hear them (it can be difficult if other conversations are happening around the speaker).

Assessor Support


NZQA’s learning management system (Pūtake) offers 150+ easy to access courses, materials and products. These are designed to support teachers as assessors to improve their assessment of NCEA standards.

Online, subject-specific, bite-sized learning modules and short courses are now available to complement the traditional face-to-face workshops that NZQA offers. These online courses can be accessed using your Education Sector Logon. Courses available for Languages include:

  • Unpacking the Writing standard
  • The Interact standard

Online Making Assessor Judgements workshops are also available throughout the year. These workshops are structured to guide teachers to improve their understanding of each grade level by examining several full samples of student work. The following standards are available for enrolment in 2023:

  • Making Assessor Judgements – French (91119, 91547)

Feedback from teachers for these workshops indicates that more than 90% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the content in the module was beneficial:

“This would be a really good department exercise to do in a meeting before marking the standard.”

“I found reading and analysing the extracts for evidence against level 8 in the curriculum very useful.”

The Assessor Practice Tool will be used to provide assessors with support for the new NCEA standards from 2024 onwards. Schools will receive further information about Phase Two of the Assessor Practice Tool in early 2023.

NZQA will continue to offer several non-subject-specific modules and workshops, designed to improve general assessment practice. The following modules and workshops will be available in 2023:

  • Assessment Approaches, an online workshop exploring different methods of assessment
  • Culturally Responsive Assessment
  • Assessment Guidance – Reviewing Your Practice
  • Tāku reo, tāku mahi – My voice, my work, a guide to managing authenticity
  • Why Less is More, a guide to reducing volumes of student evidence

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

Check the NCEA subject pages on the NZQA website regularly, as more online modules, workshops and courses will be added throughout 2023.

Live and Face-to-face

The Best Practice Workshops (online and face-to-face) offered by Assessment and Moderation 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."

Workshops, webinars or presentation slots can be requested to provide targeted support to local, regional or national audiences. National Moderators are available to present at conferences, local or national hui or via live webinars. These services are available on request and subject to availability.

Contact NZQA

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

To give feedback on this report click on this link.

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