Myth # 8: Profiles of Expected Performance (PEPs)

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  • "PEPs are scaling."

  • "PEPs are norm-referenced."

  • "PEPs determine the results that students get."

  • "PEPs are not fair to students."


  • PEPs are ranges for each Not achieved, Achieved, Merit and Excellence grade that indicate the expected distributions of results for a standard. They are indicators, not targets. They are developed annually for each standard.
  • PEPs are monitoring tools used during marking. Overall result distributions may fall outside of PEP ranges when there is a legitimate reason (e.g. teacher professional development, or new or revised standards).
  • Scaling is a mathematical process that is used to adjust students’ results. PEPs are not used to scale results. Each student’s result for an achievement standard depends on their performance, not the group performance.
  • The expected performance is interpreted relative to the standards, not relative to other students. PEPs are not norm-referenced.
  • PEPs were initially developed in response to the State Services Commission Report (2005), which recommended that NZQA produce a tool to identify possible unacceptable variability in results from year to year, and allow this to be addressed during marking.
  • PEPs are used to ensure consistency in nationally run external assessment over time, to make assessments fair to students.

More Information

The PEPs for each standard are on the NZQA website from early November each year as graphs.

Visit the Subject homepages

Some things to think about

  • In a national examination, the characteristics of the cohort does not usually change significantly from year to year. Therefore, the performance of students should not change significantly. Their performance may change as a result of the alignment of standards to the curriculum and other changes in standards. This is considered when setting and interpreting the PEPs.
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