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Using a range of information | Confirming dependability | Student participation | Above, at, below, or well below?

What is an overall teacher judgment?

An overall teacher judgment involves drawing on and applying the evidence gathered up to a particular point in time in order to make an overall judgment about a student’s progress and achievement.

Why use overall teacher judgment?

No single source of information can accurately summarise a student’s achievement or progress. A range of approaches is necessary in order to compile a comprehensive picture of the areas of progress, areas requiring attention, and what a student’s unique progress looks like. Using a range of approaches also allows the student to participate throughout the assessment process, building their assessment capability. Because of this, to assess a student in relation to National Standards, teachers need to bring together a range of evidence in order to form an overall teacher judgment.


Validity: the appropriateness of the inferences, uses, and consequences that come from assessment.

Reliability: The extent to which an assessment is consistent in measuring what it sets out to measure.

Dependability: A dependable assessment has both high validity and reliability.

Using a range of information to make an overall teacher judgment

  • Confirming dependability
  • Moderation
  • Student participation

Overall teacher judgments of achievement and progress involve combining information from a variety of sources, using a range of approaches. Evidence may be gathered through the following three ways:

  • Conversing with the student to find out what they know, understand and can do.
  • Observing the process a student uses.
  • Gathering the results from formal assessments, including standardised tools.

This 'triangulation' of information increases the dependability of the overall teacher judgment. See diagram 1 for more detail:

Diagram explaining triangulation of information.

Diagram 1. Gathering, interpreting, and using assessment information

Any point of the triangle provides an approach to gathering evidence of learning. The triangulation of a range of evidence accumulated over the year builds dependability in progress and achievement decisions. An overall teacher judgment can be made when the teacher reviews all of the evidence in relation to a National Standard, rather than simply summarising the information.

When using assessment tools teachers should understand:

  • the purpose of assessment
  • the curriculum content well enough to clearly understand what is being assessed and be confident it is being assessed appropriately
  • the difficulty of the assessment so that it fairly matches the level of the student
  • how to select an assessment tool, administer it, and interpret the outcomes
  • how to support students to understand what is being assessed and why, as well as how to respond to the outcomes in a way that benefits their learning.

Confirming dependability

Confirming the dependability of evidence from all sources is fundamental to reaching a valid and defensible overall teacher judgment.

Students' performances will vary from day to day depending on:

  • the nature of the assessment task
  • the conditions in which the assessment is undertaken
  • the purpose of the assessment
  • the student's preparation
  • the student's engagement and motivation.

When teachers experience some degree of inconsistency with assessment information, they should inquire into this further. If the inconsistency cannot be explained by normal variation in students’ performance, then there may be a need to collect further information in order to reach robust judgments.

Moderation can help to improve the dependability of an overall teacher judgment as well as the evidence that informs and supports it. Teachers should moderate both their assessments and their overall judgments in relation to National Standards. This process is discussed in more detail in the Moderation section .

Student participation

Students should actively participate throughout the assessment process and in determining their overall teacher judgment. They may be encouraged to comment on or even question the overall teacher judgment if they believe evidence of their learning supports a different judgment.

This is a vitally important characteristic of effective assessment for learning . It benefits the student’s assessment capability by clarifying what they know, understand, and can do, and what they need to learn next. All students can participate in the assessment process to some degree. As their assessment capability grows and develops, they can become more and more actively involved.

By including the student in the judgment-making process, they will also feel confident in talking about their achievement and progress with their parents, family, whānau, and communities.

Is a student's achievement above, at, below, or well below the National Standard?

In each National Standard in reading, writing, and mathematics there is a description identifying the complexity and challenge of the learning required to meet the demands of The New Zealand Curriculum at that point in schooling. In making overall teacher judgments in relation to the National Standards the teacher will consider the evidence from multiple sources to determine which standard describes the best fit for that student’s achievement.

If the balance of evidence shows the student’s achievement is:

  • in a year level above a National Standard, the student's achievement will be described as above the National Standard
  • predominantly meeting the expectations at a year level, the student's achievement will be described as at the National Standard
  • not achieving at a National Standard, but achieving closer to the National Standard immediately below, the student's achievement will be described as below the National Standard
  • more than one year below a National Standard, the student's achievement will be described as well below the National Standard.

Determining 'at risk' students

Overall teacher judgments in relation to National Standards can help teachers to identify students who are ‘at risk’. Students may be identified as being at risk if they are achieving 'well below' a standard or are improving at considerably less than the expected rate of progress. Students who are identified as at risk may need additional support beyond a classroom programme.

English language learners (ELL)

English language learners (ELL) progress and achievement will be reported in relation to the National Standards. It is recommended that schools also assess and report the progress and achievement of English language learners in relation to the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP), as the Progressions provide a guide to typical language learning pathways for students learning English as an additional language.

Students with very significant learning disabilities

A very small number of students have very significant learning disabilities. This group of students is likely to (or expected to) learn long-term within Level 1 of the New Zealand Curriculum and will be receiving support through the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS) or accessing Supplementary Learning Support (SLS) support. The progress these children make will be assessed in relation to the standards as part of the regular review of their learning that takes place through their Individual Education Programmes (IEPs) and processes, which are agreed in consultation with parents, families, whānau, and communities, teachers and the Ministry.


  • Making judgments involves both student and teacher.
  • Evidence is collected cumulatively over the year, in contexts across the curriculum and is brought together to judge achievement in relation to National Standards.
  • There is a need for information from a range of assessment approaches so that decisions are dependable.
  • An overall teacher judgment is used to determine which standards are the best fit, then whether a student is above, at, below, or well below the standards that relate to their level.
  • Moderation improves both the dependability of overall teacher judgments and the evidence that supports them.
  • Teacher curriculum and pedagogical content knowledge is essential for making a dependable overall teacher judgment.
  • Overall teacher judgments, constructed with students, are the basis of the reporting in relation to National Standards.

Questions for discussion

  • How might I involve students in the process of making overall teacher judgments in my classroom?
  • How much information might I need to determine an overall teacher judgment?
  • How might I support the judgments I make and how dependable are they?
  • What do I need to do to increase the dependability of my judgments?
  • How does our school manage the moderation of overall teacher judgments?

Updated on: 07 Sep 2011