National Moderator's Reports

Februrary 2022

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Download PDF: Visual Arts National Moderator's Report (PDF, 202KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internally assessed Visual Arts 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 Visual Arts include:

  • Making Assessor Judgements (91450, 91451, 91453)
  • Group Work in The Arts
  • Developing Ideas
  • Drawing Conventions
  • Finished Work Standards
  • Preparing Digital Submissions for Moderation
  • Research Standards, Level 3.

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

Updated annotated exemplars have been published for 90917, 91325 and 91460.

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

Digital moderation samples

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The number of schools submitting digital moderation samples has continued to increase. Moderation delays have occurred when submissions were either incorrectly formatted or could not be accessed.

Where a link was provided for samples located on the web or the school LMS, successful submissions ensured that the site had public access enabled, or a username and password was provided. We advise checking access on a separate computer to the one used to upload the samples.

Images in samples should be correctly and consistently oriented. Shifting between images that are sideways and upside down can interrupt the ‘flow’ when reading the progression of student work.

A useful bite-sized module on this topic is available here.

Single panel submissions for Developing Ideas standards

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Some moderation samples for the 2.3 and 3.3 standards were presented as a single A1 panel of finished work. These are typically edited selections of final outcomes that omit supporting evidence such as research, planning, technical trials, rejected ideas and evaluative notes.

Supporting evidence should be included in moderation submissions, as it is often critical for the moderator to see evidence of the reflection, evaluation and critical thinking needed for higher levels of achievement.  

Explicit emulations of artists’ work

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Some moderation samples received in 2021 were largely based on close emulations of artist model images. This was most prevalent in the fields of Design and Photography, but also occurred in Painting.

While explicit emulations can be a useful learning strategy, the outcomes are often limited to demonstrating technical skills for the drawing conventions standards (2.2 and 3.2). Personal adaptation, modification and/or moving beyond artist model strategies is typically needed to show the more convincing understanding of pictorial and stylistic conventions needed for Merit and Excellence.

Explicit emulations do not provide opportunity for students to show authentic advancement of personal propositions, which is needed for higher achievement with the developing ideas standards (2.3 and 3.3).

Appropriated resource imagery in Design standards

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Some design submissions included image focused outcomes, such as magazine covers, that relied on essentially unmodified appropriated images to grab attention and create impact.

In outcomes using unmodified appropriated images, assessment decisions need to be based on the decision making of the student, demonstrated in the layout and typographic properties. This means that an appropriated image, no matter how dramatic, cannot raise the grade of an outcome where the layout and typography is at the level of Achieved. 

While acknowledging that the use of stock imagery is industry practice, teachers are reminded that students are in a learning context rather than commercial design practice. It is therefore recommended that students use drawing or photography to create their own original imagery to show personal understanding of illustrative conventions and the development of original illustrative ideas.

Appropriate contexts for ‘Finished Work’ standards

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While a range of innovative and authentic projects were received for the finished works standards, other outcomes appeared to be a subset of investigations for field-specific standards (design, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture). For example, generic paintings such as an A3 landscape, or design approaches such as a logo, which are more appropriately assessed within painting and design standards.

However, specific visual arts cultural contexts may precede, or emerge out of, field-specific investigations. For example, unique finished works may take the form of a mural or multimedia installation that emerges out of a painting program, or a moving image promotional product for design.

Contexts for Achievement Standards 90917, 91325, and 91460 need to be appropriately significant and clearly defined in terms of design and production conventions. This typically involves a list of requirements including media, technique, scale, purpose, symbolism and other features appropriate to the identified context. A particular finished work task, that includes a full list of specific requirements, typically accompanies authentic and appropriate contexts.


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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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