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Assessment Resource Centre (ARC)

  1. Using A to E grades to report student achievement
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Using A to E grades to report student achievement

two teachers sitting in front of a computer

A to E grading

The A to E grading scale lets teachers report student academic achievements at any point in time using clear standards.

As a teacher, you will make a professional on-balance judgement to decide which grade best matches the standards your students have achieved, based on assessment information you have collected.

The Assessment Resource Centre (the ARC) provides work samples and other information to help you see the standards associated with each grade.

Grades are one tool that schools use when reporting to parents.

School authorities have provided schools with the details of their complete reporting requirements.

What are standards?

Achievement standards have two important components. These can be thought of in terms of what and how well

  • what students are expected to learn


  • how well they have achieved.

The NSW syllabuses state what students at each stage are expected to learn. The A to E grade scale describes how well students achieve.

What is the A to E grade scale?

The A to E grade scale summarises the standard (or quality) of achievement associated with each grade. The scale describes:

  • the depth of knowledge and understanding and
  • the range of skills that students working at that standard typically show.

Grades are given for individual achievement. Students will get the grade that best matches the standard of their achievement. Teachers are not limited to set numbers of each grade within their class or school.

Grades are one aspect of school reporting to parents. Other important tools include:

  • teacher comments
  • parent-teacher interviews and
  • information about student effort and application.

How can I see the standards?

The Board of Studies is gathering the work of real students who have done some syllabus-based tasks and activities. These work samples are published on the Assessment Resource Centre (the ARC).

The samples come from a range of schools. Many samples have already been graded, and the grades agreed by a number of experienced practising teachers.

They did this on the basis that the work sample displays characteristics of work typically produced by students performing at that grade. Explanations called grade commentaries will help you see the reasons for each grading.

The collections of work samples provided show the quality of work typically produced by students who will receive each grade at the end of the stage.

Getting to know the standards for a course or stage

You become familiar with the standards by reading:

  • the descriptions for each grade
  • the work samples and
  • the grade commentaries.

The grade commentaries are an important link between the samples and the grades.

While reading, think of your experiences with other students who have produced similar work. This will give you a mental picture of the knowledge, skills and understanding represented by that grade.

Discussions with your colleagues may also be helpful.

Choosing the right grade

Reporting with grades requires that you use your on-balance judgement in relation to standards. This is a key professional skill.

An on-balance judgement does not just focus on a single piece of work.

Weigh up the assessment information you have collected for a student up to that point in time. This information will come from both formal assessment activities and informal observations and will be built up over time and in different situations.

The Board of Studies supports the Assessment for Learning approach. Information on a student's achievement that is collected during the course of learning and used as part of an Assessment for Learning strategy can also be used to allocate grades.

Consistent teacher judgements

The consistency of judgements about grades within and between schools comes from:

  • following common syllabuses
  • using the common grade scale and
  • considering shared samples of student work.

The grade commentaries on the ARC also help by giving reasons for the different grades shown for each work sample.

Teachers in every school can use the SAME standards to report so that a grade B in Bathurst can represent the same achievement as a grade B in Blakehurst.

Using the A to E scale at any time

While the ARC work samples show achievement that can be expected at the end of each stage, A to E grades can be given at any time.

At any point, you can look at what your students have been learning and how well they have achieved.

This means that at any time you can:

  • compare student achievement with the standards represented by each grade and
  • make an on-balance professional judgement and give the appropriate grade.

When reporting grades before the end of a stage:

  • consider the knowledge and skills covered up to that point in time
  • give the grade that best matches the standard achieved so far.

The full range of grades can be awarded at any point in the course or stage. For example, you will award a grade A to a student if, taking into account what has been taught up to that point,

the student has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the content and can readily apply this knowledge. In addition, the student has achieved a very high level of competence in the processes and skills and can apply these skills to new situations.

Click here to see the full grade scale

Early in a course or stage students are NOT limited only to grades D and E. Always consider what has been covered so far and how well the students have achieved.

There are a number of approaches you can use to allocate grades. Possible approaches include:

  • Approach 1 using the grade scale for each task or activity.
  • Approach 2 collecting assessment information and using the scale only when grades need to be allocated.

Making progress during a course or stage

If a student receives the same grade for two consecutive reports they have made progress. For example, if a student receives a Grade C in the middle of the year and again at the end of the year they will be making progress.

Between the two reporting periods the student will have learned new knowledge and skills of a more advanced nature. In order to receive a Grade C on the second occasion the student has

a sound knowledge and understanding of the main areas of content and has achieved an adequate level of competence in the processes and skills

in relation to this new and more challenging material.
Click here to see the full grade scale

Reporting to parents

The grades that students receive are only one aspect of the report to parents and students.

Grades need to be supported by:

  • teacher comments both written and verbal
  • other information the school provides on the students achievements, activities, effort and application.

The school sector and/or school will provide details about the specific requirements and advice for assessing and reporting to parents.

Click on the following links to go to the websites for school systems and sectors:

NSW Department of Education and Training:

Catholic Education Offices in NSW:

The Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales:

The information on this page translated for Community Languages

Using the A to E
grade scale
The A to E grade scale
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Reporting using grades: questions and answers for teachers

Reporting using grades: questions and answers for teachers

Standards-based assessing and reporting

Standards-based Assessing and Reporting (PPT; 1.7Mb)

An explanation of grading student achievement in relation to standards for Stages 1 to 5.

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