National Moderator's Reports

February 2020

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Download PDF: Social Studies National Moderator's Report (PDF, 177KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Social Studies standards in 2019.

It does not clarify specific standards but provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Awarding Excellence

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When making judgement for Excellence, it needs to be ensured that all indicators of the Excellence criteria in the standard have been fully addressed. These are outlined in the Explanatory notes. The quality of evidence provided should also reflect the curriculum level.  If the evidence demonstrates that the Excellence criteria have been only partially met, then the grade awarded cannot be Excellence. This is critical in distinguishing between high Merit and Excellence.

Consideration also needs to be given to the overall submission, such as succinctness and clarity.

Collecting evidence

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Opportunities that allow students to collect evidence through different modes such as blogs, video clips, etc is encouraged. It allows students to have agency on how best to demonstrate what they know. 

Group work is seen as an integral part of Social Studies, particularly for the social action standards of 91599, 91282 and 91042.

For the ‘social action’ standards, the use of “I” statements in the written work, related to tasks/actions individually undertaken, helped to ensure that evidence reflected a personal action (as required) rather than group action. Good guidance was evidently given that reflected actions chosen to allow all students in the group sufficient opportunity to contribute to both the planning and the social action.

Effective recording was seen of specific examples as evidence of participation, such as written reports, video or photographic diary evidence, signed witness/observer statements and other methods where information was effectively able to be stored and retrieved.

Student wellbeing

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Where students are guided in how to present their evidence succinctly, the quality of their responses improves. When students are aware of the concept that quantity is not an indicator of quality, this also helps to reduce workload pressures.

In terms of student wellbeing, it is also timely to consider the importance of positive contexts and guidance regarding potentially ‘dark themes’ or inappropriate material. While the need for self-expression and realism is not disputed, the mental and physical wellbeing of students in their learning and assessment should be a significant consideration in programmes.

Assessor Support

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The Best Practice Workshops (online and face-to-face) offered by the Assessment and Moderation Team 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, the Assessment and Moderation Team will continue delivering this support model in 2020. Workshops or presentation slots can be requested to provide targeted support to regional or national audiences.

Additionally, we will continue to run the generic Transforming Assessment Praxis Programme, an online programme which helps assessors learn about re-contextualising assessment resources and collecting evidence in different ways to better meet the needs of their learners.

More detailed information, including how to request or register for a workshop, can be found on our Best Practice Workshop pages or by emailing

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Point of view, values and perspctives

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This is integral to Social Studies. A significant number of grade changes occurred particularly at level 2 and 3, as there was a need for more evidence of an understanding of what people think and why.

For all levels, students need to explain more than one point of view. Points of view are what people think about something (their opinion or attitude towards an issue, an action, or an event). A quote itself is not enough to show understanding. Successful student evidence first identified what the point of view was about, and then described exactly what the person/group thought about this issue, action or event, backing this up with a quote.

For levels 2 and 3, evidence that successfully demonstrated the criteria of standards explained more than one point of view, value and perspective. Values are the reasons why someone might think a particular way about something, and explanation needs to link to the values or beliefs that influenced the person’s or group’s point of view, coming from such factors as their role in society, or their cultural or political beliefs.

Students clearly demonstrated their understanding of how perspectives and ideologies shaped specific beliefs and values where they were able to link beliefs and values held by the person/group to a relevant ideology or belief system, and where discussion involved more than just naming a specific, recognised ideology.

Integrated assessment of standards

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A growing number of schools have begun to adopt an integrated approach to the delivery of internal Social Studies standards. The pairing of 91040 and 91043 and 91597 and 91599 have proven successful combinations.

Excellent examples have come through of the use of integrated standards across Social Studies and other subject areas. Successful examples include:

  • 91043 and Geography 91012 
  • 91043 and Geography 91009 
  • 91043 and English 90857,
  • 91040 and English 90857 
  • 91599, and English 90853 and Home Economics 91468
  • 91599 and Media Studies 91495
  • 91597 and Maths 91263.


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Outcome statements in external moderation reports

In 2017, moderation report outcome statements changed from ‘Confidence’ statements to ‘Consistency’ statements, as explained in an NZQA Circular at the time.

The previous FOUR ‘Confidence’ statements were changed to THREE Consistency statements. This reduction in the number of categories of statement has, in some cases, resulted in moderation report outcomes previously noted as ‘Confident’ now being noted as ‘Not Yet Consistent’.

It is important to recognise that ‘Not Yet Consistent’ does not imply major issues on the part of the assessor, but that the aspects highlighted can be easily addressed through the advice given in the report.

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