Waikato Journal of Education


educational assessment; moderation; quality assurance; policy enactment; perceptions; context

How to Cite

Williams, A., Johnston, M. B., & Averill, R. (2021). The functions of NZQA moderation: Academic leaders’ perceptions. Waikato Journal of Education, 26(2), 65–89. https://doi.org/10.15663/wje.v26i2.738


In New Zealand, education organisations that internally assess against nationally-set standards must engage in national moderation—such as that conducted by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)—to quality assure those assessments. How policies are enacted by organisations is influenced by multiple factors and enactment may diverge from intent. One such factor is the people involved in policy work within organisations; however, little research has been done into their perspectives. In this mixed-methods study, we collected perception data from a sample of 215 academic leaders from three organisation types via an online survey. We explored their understandings of the functions of NZQA moderation and differences in views according to organisation type. We found that leaders perceive NZQA moderation to function in the areas of assessment quality, professional learning opportunities, organisational quality assurance and maintaining public confidence. Leaders from different organisation types mostly shared similar views in terms of the functions; however, those from private training enterprises considered NZQA moderation to place stronger emphasis on organisational quality assurance and to hold broader improvement functions than did those from other organisations. These findings are useful for informing the policy work of education organisations (and making better use of the opportunities afforded by moderation) and for NZQA, including to guide suitable framing of moderation communications to enhance alignment between policy intent and policy enactment. Such uses remain relevant in New Zealand’s current climate of educational reform, irrespective of any changes made to NZQA moderation policy.


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