How inconsistent is moderation?
When Ofqual published its investigation into the moderation of last year’s writing assessments, it revealed a long list of concerns. The exams watchdog concluded that moderation “was more inconsistent than it could have been”, in the report published in March. Based on visits to one school in each of 12 local authorities, and interviews with teachers, moderators and moderation managers from 17 LAs, the report revealed:
– Due to difficulties in accessing guidance, moderation managers sometimes felt that it was up to them to apply their own interpretation of the writing framework, and of how moderation should be delivered.
– Sometimes guidance was sent to individual moderation managers and shared through unofficial channels, but not at a national level. This meant it was unclear whether the guidance was official or not.
– Some moderators told schools which pupils’ work was to be moderated 24-48 hours in advance of the visit, while some chose the pupils on the day. A notice period meant teachers could be more ready to defend their judgements.
– Moderators generally chose pupils from a list that had been collated by teachers. Some schools presented this in rank order, allowing moderators to focus on “borderline” cases; others simply grouped pupils by standards, potentially reducing the likelihood of changes to judgements at moderation.
– In two cases in which eight pupils were moderated, a visit in one authority took twice as long as in the other, although the same number of moderators had attended each school.
What does moderation cost?
Through freedom of information requests, Tes has discovered a wide variation in what local authorities charge for moderation and how the charges are made.
The charges to academies for moderating range from £60 to more than £1,000.
Of the 49 authorities that revealed their charges, Bournemouth said it charged £60 per academy, whereas Greenwich charged between £310 and £1,060 depending on the size of the school.
Some authorities offered a range of packages: neighbours Newcastle and North Tyneside both charged £1,100 once every three years – with North Tyneside explaining that the package included monitoring of all statutory assessments, key stage 1 and KS2 statutory moderation.
But some authorities refused to answer, saying that they believed the information was commercially sensitive.
What does a visit involve?
Local authorities had to tell schools on or after Friday 18 May if they were going to be moderated. At least two school days’ notice of a moderation visit must be given.
Schools will be visited between 4 June and 28 June.
In the majority of cases, the Standards and Testing Agency expects only one external moderator to visit a school – but additional moderators may attend in some cases.
The moderator visits the school and reviews work from a sample of pupils. The sample must include pupils assessed at each of the three standards: working towards the expected standard; at the expected standard; and at greater depth.
To confirm that a pupil has met the specified standards, the moderator must look at the pupil’s work and hold a professional discussion with the Year 6 teacher.
The moderator can ask for additional evidence if necessary. In certain cases, the whole year group may be checked.
At the end of the visit, the local authority must provide the school with the agreed, validated judgements for the moderated pupils and any revised judgements if the LA moderator considered the pupil was working at a different standard.
Every authority must have an appeals process in place and make schools aware of it.