National Moderator's Reports

February 2022

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Download PDF: Geography National Moderator's Report (PDF, 142KB)

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

  • Making Assessor Judgements (91430, 91432)
  • Deeper Understanding
  • Global Geographic Topics
  • Research Planning
  • Variation in an Urban Pattern.

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

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

Quality of evidence

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There are Geography standards at each level focusing on research, geographic issues, global topics and application of spatial analysis, which all have similar requirements outlined in Explanatory Note 2. Moderation in 2021 shows that the quality of the evidence needs to be considered. 

Indicators of quality are provided in Explanatory Note 1, which links the standard to the curriculum level, and in the Achievement Criteria which use descriptors such as describe, explain or analyse. The research and spatial analysis standards provide these descriptors in Explanatory Note 2, along with guidance regarding the amount of support the assessor can provide. This is also stated in the standard title. For example, at Level 3 it is expected that the students will consult the assessor rather than being provided with specific direction or guidance.

At Level 3, the evidence needs to clearly show the progression from explanation to analysis. This will require a relatively complex understanding of the context from a geographic perspective. An analysis involves the breaking down or deconstruction of data and examination of the separate parts, and then identifying patterns, trends, relationships and connections between the parts. The evidence will be critically selected, well-structured and concise.

A critical analysis will question and/or judge the evidence, and examine the relevance and significance of the interactions, irregularities, consequences and/or implications which became apparent in the analysis.

Geographic research planning and data

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Evidence from moderation showed that the quality of planning and the data gathered was correlated with achievement.

When the quality of the primary data collected is sufficient to enable the findings to be clear, an aim is formulated and detailed planning has been completed, greater depth can be achieved in the research report. The plan should determine what data is needed, and where and how it will be collected.

The aim needs to consider how and/or why to avoid the collection of data that will only support descriptions. Potential issues with data collection need to be considered at the planning stage. For example, insufficient wind to support data collection relating to aeolian processes of sand transport, or whether sufficient data can be collected with time or other constraints. If further guidance with research aims and planning are required, refer to the online short course which can be accessed from the Geography subject page on the NZQA website.

Geographic contexts

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Evidence from moderation shows a strong correlation between the selected context and the quality of the explanation or analysis. This is especially apparent in the Geographic Issue and Global Topic standards. It is important that the context is clearly geographic, and students have sufficient understanding of the context and the related geography to produce the quality responses required.

When the causes for the geographic issue are not understood, the recommended solutions are often impractical and don’t address the causes or solve the problem. For example, to propose a viable solution for human trafficking, the student needs to understand what is causing this issue from a geographic perspective. Viable solutions could be proposed for a source region or country, rather than recommending solutions to be implemented on a global scale. Oversimplification and use of generalities occur when understanding of the context is limited.

While the concept of spatial pattern is generally well understood, a relatively complex understanding of the geographic topic at a global scale is needed to explain the factors and/or processes that contribute to the pattern. For example, the geological processes need to be understood when using a context relating to mining, or with the context of malaria understanding of climatic processes is needed. An analysis should show understanding of relationships between the main factors and/or processes, rather than simply explain each in isolation.


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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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