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Stage 5 Grading

Assessing and grading student achievement

Assessing student achievement is the process of collecting information on student performance in relation to the objectives and outcomes of a course.

In setting activities or tasks, you should give careful consideration to the syllabus objectives and outcomes being assessed. By measuring student achievement in relation to these objectives and outcomes, you can build up a profile of the achievement of each student in relation to the course performance descriptors.

Grading student achievement is the process of assigning a letter (A, B, C, D, E) to summarise the level of a student's achievement in a course. In Mathematics, grades have been further differentiated to nine levels as follows: A10, A9, B8, B7, C6, C5, D4, D3, E2. For students undertaking courses without subject-specific course performance descriptors, (ie. Board Endorsed or Content Endorsed Courses) a grade from A to E should be assigned using the Common Grade Scale.

In establishing an assessment program, you should ensure that the types of assessment activities or tasks used are appropriate to the objectives and outcomes being assessed. Generally, it will be necessary to use a number of different assessment activities or tasks in order to ensure that student achievement in relation to all the knowledge and skills objectives is assessed. Principals have the authority to decide on and to implement disability provisions for school-based assessments and tests.

The assessment program should also reflect the relative emphasis placed on the assessable objectives of school programs and the syllabus. For example, where a school has placed considerable emphasis on the development of research skills, that emphasis should be reflected in the assessment program. Objectives from the affective domain (ie values and attitudes) should not be used in determining a student's grade.

Where activities or tasks are scheduled throughout a course, greater weight would generally be given to those activities or tasks undertaken towards the end of the course. For example, in a 200-hour course extending over Years 9 and 10, the assessment information collected in Year 10 provides the more complete picture of student achievement. There are, however, a number of different ways of organising the teaching/learning program for a course. The scheduling of activities or tasks and the weights applied should reflect the course organisation. Students should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their maximum level of achievement relative to the course performance descriptors.

Applying the course performance descriptors

Course performance descriptors have been developed for each course. They describe the main features of a typical student's performance at each grade measured against the syllabus objectives and outcomes for the course.

You will make the final judgement of the most appropriate grade on the basis of available assessment information and with reference to the course performance descriptors. In applying these descriptors, you should interpret them in terms of standards that can be achieved by Stage 5 students within the bounds of the course. The same course performance descriptors apply to 100-hour and 200-hour courses. This relates to courses studied across Years 9 and 10, and to courses studied exclusively in either Year 9 or Year 10.

The grades awarded should reflect the relative emphasis placed on the assessable objectives of school programs and the syllabus. For example, where a school has placed considerable emphasis on the development of research skills, that emphasis should be reflected in the assessment program. Objectives from the affective domain (ie values and attitudes) should not be used in determining a student's grade.

Making an on-balance professional judgement

When making a judgement of the grade to be awarded, you need to note the following points:

  • You will arrive at judgements by taking into account strengths and weaknesses in performance across a range of contexts and over a period of time, gathering evidence on a number of assessment activities.
  • When deciding the number and type of assessment activities, the emphasis should be on the nature and quality rather than on the amount of evidence.
  • Assessment activities should give students opportunities to show what they know and can do.
  • You should provide opportunities for students to display their achievements in different ways and to work in a range of situations.
  • A single piece of work will not cover all aspects of a grade description. Using a single piece of work to make a judgement is therefore not as valid and reliable as an 'on-balance' judgement.
  • Each grade description should be considered alongside descriptions for adjacent grades.

There are many suitable models that schools may consider appropriate in supporting teacher judgement. Two possible approaches are available through the links below:

Method 1

This method will be useful where it is not considered desirable to aggregate the information to produce a single numerical mark.

  1. Establish an assessment program that consists of a number of assessment activities.
  2. Ensure that the assessment activities cover the full range of outcomes.
  3. Decide on the relative importance of each assessment activity.
  4. Collect performance information on each student from assessment activities. Letters, symbols or descriptive comments may be recorded for some or all assessment activities.
  5. Assemble the information on each student from the assessment activities to provide an overall picture of the student's achievement.
  6. Match the overall picture of each student's achievements to the most appropriate column of the course performance descriptor to allocate the grade.

Note: Schools may decide to place greater emphasis on particular syllabus outcomes within their teaching programs and practices. This emphasis should be reflected in the assessment program and therefore, in the determination of grades.

Method 2

  1. Establish an assessment program that consists of a number of assessment activities.
  2. Ensure that the assessment activities cover the full range of outcomes.
  3. Determine the weightings or relative importance of each activity.
  4. Award marks for each completed activity.
  5. Combine the marks awarded in each activity to obtain a total mark for each student.
  6. On the basis of these marks, determine the order of merit for the group.
  7. Refer to the course performance descriptors to relate the order of merit to grades awarded.
  8. Review the grade awarded to each student to make sure that no anomaly has occurred. The order of merit obtained by the summation of marks may require adjustment after consideration of students' achievement at or near each grade cut-off.
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