What’s Moderation?

Moderation is a set of processes designed and implemented by the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies to:

  • provide system wide comparability of grades and scores derived from college-based assessment
  • form the basis for valid and reliable assessment in senior secondary colleges
  • maintain the quality of college-based assessment and the credibility, validity and acceptability of Board certificates.

The ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (ACT BSSS) uses two methods to ensure that these goals are achieved:

  • Qualitative moderation to ensure comparability of grades, and
  • Statistical moderation to ensure comparability of course scores for the use of calculating the ATAR. To read more on this please go to Scaling and the ATAR

Qualitative moderation (review) involves teachers in and across colleges reaching consensus about students' unit grades through consultation, negotiation and reference to published criteria and standards. The moderation process takes place twice each year on Moderation Days. These occur in March and in August.

Why is moderation necessary?

Moderation is necessary for producing valid, credible and publicly acceptable Board certificates in a college-based curriculum and assessment system. Moderation provides for comparability of standards across senior secondary colleges; each of which offers a variety of curriculum choices.

The public, the tertiary education sector and industry in the Australian Capital Territory expect a particular level of achievement in one college to have the same meaning as the same level of achievement in the same subject area in every other college.

What happens at Moderation Days

Teachers prepare presentations of portfolios of students' assessment responses for validation at the end of the previous semester. These portfolios are then examined by other subject teachers from across the system at Moderation Day. The reviewers then provide advice to colleges about the quality of the college decisions on standards of student work and the quality of assessment practice.

How well does moderation work?

Studies conducted by education authorities responsible for senior secondary certification on the comparability of levels of achievement support the view that qualitative moderation processes work very well. The BSSS is satisfied through evidence that the standards in the ACT are comparable to results obtained in systems of statewide external exams. Other Australian states also conduct similar types of qualitative moderation to ensure grade standard comparability. 

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