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Reaffirming Derived Grade Quality Assurance Processes
A2022/11 - 3 Aug 2022


Principal’s Nominee 
All Teachers/Kaiako

Reaffirming Derived Grade Quality Assurance Processes


This circular replaces Clarification of Derived Grade Processes A2015/036 – 21 Sep 2015


Candidates who:

  • have been unable to attend an NZQA external assessment or submit a completed externally assessed portfolio
  • attended an NZQA external assessment session and their performance has been significantly impaired
  • have been unable to attend an external assessment because of selection for national representation in a sport, academic or cultural event

may apply to NZQA, through their school, to be awarded a derived grade based exclusively on pre-existing, standard specific evidence held by the school.

[Ref: Assessment (including Examination) Rules for Schools with Consent to Assess 2022]

Key messages

  1. Schools’ processes need to be sufficient to assure NZQA that the reported grade is based on pre-existing, valid1, authentic, standard-specific evidence that meets the requirements of the standard and has been subject to a quality assurance process.
  2. On approval from NZQA, the school may apply for derived grades for an Unexpected Event (previously referred to as Unexpected Event Grades) for a group of students who have been significantly disadvantaged by extraordinary circumstances beyond their control.
  3. Derived grades reported to NZQA are provisional until the final qualification check is run prior to results release. Grades may be subject to change if errors or anomalies are identified.

Quality Assurance of the Assessment Tool

Examples of processes that will give the school confidence that the assessment tool used is fit for purpose

 The external assessment used is from a practice exam that has been:

  • developed in-house and critiqued in the same way that internal assessments are critiqued e.g., it is a previously unseen practice exam based on modified papers from other years, or
  • purchased from a secure source, such, as a subject association, or a commercial source, and checked against the achievement criteria of the standard, or
  • provided by a colleague in another school and critiqued in the same way that internal assessments are critiqued, or
  • an online practice exam developed by NZQA, or by NZQA in conjunction with another provider.

The evidence is from an assessment, or end-of-topic test that has been developed with similar rigour to the above, and there is certainty that the student’s work is their own.

Quality Assurance of the Assessment Judgement (i.e., the grade)

What quality assurance processes could give a school confidence that a derived grade is based on valid, standard-specific evidence?

Verification provides a suitably qualified “second pair of eyes” (where one is readily available) to verify the grades through, for example: 

  • panel marking
  • a sample of grade boundaries from each teacher’s marked external assessments has been checked by another subject-expert.

Justification provides confidence in assessor consistency and accuracy of judgements with the standard where a suitably qualified “second pair of eyes” is not readily available through, for example:  

  • the assessor’s involvement with external exam writing, or marking for the standard or subject
  • middle or senior management consultation on the assessor’s use of assessment schedules, NZQA exemplars and past student answer booklets that have been used as benchmarks
  • comparison of previous year’s derived grades with NZQA external examination grades achieved for those same years
  • external moderation agreement rates for that subject.
  1. Valid evidence will be gathered from practice external assessment that mirrors (i.e. imitates) the format and conditions of the external assessment and can include:
    1. Practice exams in school
    2. NZQA Digital Practice Exams
    3. End of topic/standard test held under exam conditions
    4. Practice exams outside school on a secure digital platform, mirroring the format and conditions of the examination for each standard.

Where the above options are not available to a student, and authenticity and suitable supervision can be assured; a practice external assessment may be carried out remotely in a non-school setting, monitored by the Principal’s Nominee or their designate.


Please refer any enquiries relating to this circular to your School Relationship Manager:

School Relationship Manager
School Quality Assurance and Liaison
Telephone: 04 463 3000

Circulars are available from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website (

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