Author: Bromdal, Annette, Rasmussen, Mary Lou, Quinlivan, Kathleen, Sanjakdar, Fida, Aspin, Clive, Allen, Louisa
Type of paper: Abstract refereed
Social moderation is often presented as a mechanism capable of improving the dependability of assessment information and strengthening teacher assessment capability. Although the professional learning benefits associated with social moderation are frequently promoted, the teacher learning that effective moderation necessitates tends to be overlooked. Addressing a gap in the research on social moderation, this paper examines how the professional learning opportunities that teachers experience during social moderation processes affect the robustness of the resulting assessment information. Located within the context of New Zealand's recently introduced National Standards assessment system, in which participation in school-based social moderation is a requirement, this paper draws on data collected from three urban schools. It reports on the teacher learning and assessment outcomes associated with the moderation processes at these schools. New Zealand's National Standards moderation activities are expected to improve the dependability of teachers' assessment information; yet they have not been tightly prescribed and schools have been given considerable freedom to develop their own moderation processes. To capture each school's interpretation and enactment of social moderation, the study reported on in this paper utilises a mixed-methods design. Data collection, which is ongoing during the 2012 school year, includes observations of moderation and meeting sessions, semi-structured interviews, surveys, think-aloud sessions and the collection of student assessment information. Analyses to date suggest that participation in social moderation processes is providing teachers with valuable learning opportunities as well as beginning to improve the dependability of assessment information. But these preliminary findings also indicate that New Zealand schools are responding in a variety of ways to the new moderation requirements. Drawing on evidence-based research on effective professional learning, the results will be interpreted in terms of the learning opportunities that the moderation approaches adopted at each of the participating schools have afforded the teacher participants. The paper also presents a second analysis, examining the effect that each moderation process has had on the dependability of assessment information. The findings of these two analyses afford insights into how teacher professional learning contributes to effective social moderation practices.