Derived grade guidelines

The overriding principles for the derived grade process are:

  • being fair to both the applicant and to all other candidates
  • the derived grade is based upon authentic pre-existing standard-specific evidence that has been subject to a quality-assurance process.

What will be considered?

Derived grades are for exam candidates who, just before or during the examinations, suffer

  • a temporary illness,
  • trauma ( ie. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience) or misadventure (i.e. an event beyond their control)
  • another serious event.

The illness, trauma or event must have a clear and observable detrimental effect on the candidate's performance and/or attendance.

Candidates should sit the examination where-ever possible.

Candidates who sit the examination but believe that their performance was significantly impaired by the illness, trauma or event, or were unable to sit the examination should apply for a derived grade.

Applications must refer to events of a medical or non-medical nature that:

  • have clearly had a significant effect on the candidate during the examination
  • stopped the candidate from attending the examination.

What won't be considered?

The temporary illness, trauma or other serious event must be of a significant nature. Applications will not be granted on grounds such as:

  • minor ailments e.g. minor coughs or cold
  • stress or anxiety due to having to sit examinations
  • parents being on holiday
  • day-to-day family disturbances or school-based disturbances
  • death or euthanasia of a pet
  • minor traffic incidents.

What about long-term conditions?

The following conditions alone are not acceptable grounds for a derived grade application:

  • long-term and ongoing illnesses and conditions (e.g. concussion, physical disability, anxiety, epilepsy, depression, anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders)
  • chronic relapsing conditions (e.g., glandular fever, ME)
  • ongoing personal trauma.

These conditions are usually managed through special assessment conditions and/or modifyig the candidate's assessment programme.

However, where there is a sudden change in a managed chronic condition/illness that is documented by a registered medical professional at the time of the examination, and the candidate believes they are unable to perform on the day of the examination as well as they usually have, NZQA will consider an application.

For example, a change in medication might cause a documented and observable change in the way that a chronic condition/illness is managed and have a clear and observable detrimental effect on the candidate. In such a case, the impairment is seen as temporary and if a registered professional is willing to support an application, NZQA will consider it.

Exam result versus derived grade

If the candidate sits the examination but also applies for a derived grade which is then approved, the better result of the two will be awarded.

What evidence needs to be provided?

In general, credible evidence has to be provided to support any derived grade application. The author of any supporting document needs to be independent and suitably qualified to justify the application. They must stipulate that the student has been significantly impaired  and clearly state the period of time to be covered (from when to when).

Applications made as a result of a temporary illness, the usual evidence provided is from a registered medical professional who can confirm the illness, trauma or other serious event had an observable detrimental effect on the candidates examination attendance or performance.

For events occurring in the period immediately prior to the examination, the candidate must establish that effective preparation was not possible in the week before the examination and provide evidence that they were under continuous and well-documented care by a registered professional.

If in doubt, Principal’s Nominees should contact NZQA for advice on appropriate evidence.

When to apply?

Applications with all supporting documentation should be made as soon as possible. Candidates and schools should not wait until the end of examinations as NZQA may need to contact the school or applicant for more information to support the application.

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