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Assessment Resource Centre (ARC)

  1. Guide to Grade Allocation – Stage 5 and Preliminary Courses
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Guide to Grade Allocation – Stage 5 and Preliminary Courses

Who gets grades?

Students who complete Year 10 receive A to E grades based on their achievements in Stage 5 courses (except VET and courses based on Life Skills outcomes and content) each year. In Stage 5 Mathematics, grades have been further differentiated to nine levels (A10, A9, B8, B7, C6, C5, D4, D3 and E2).

From 2013 this process will be extended to include awarding A to E grades to students who satisfactorily complete a Preliminary course.

What does this mean for schools?

Schools should continue to develop and implement sound assessment programs and procedures to award grades at the end of Stage 5 courses (Year 10) and ensure that programs and procedures are in place for the assessment of Preliminary courses (Year 11).

Best practice when awarding grades

Teachers are encouraged to follow a two-step process:

Step 1 Moderation - What is moderation in this context?

Awarding grades requires the informed professional judgement of teachers as they match student achievement to grade descriptions. For Stage 5, Course Performance Descriptors provide these descriptions for Board Developed courses. For Content Endorsed courses, the Common Grade Scale is used. For Preliminary courses, the Common Grade Scale for Preliminary Courses, provides the descriptions of levels of achievement at each grade (A to E) for all courses, except Life Skills and VET courses where grades are not awarded.

Teachers can moderate their judgements by comparing work samples for their students with samples aligned to grades A to E. These are available for a selection of courses on the Assessment Resource Centre (ARC) website.

Moderation will help ensure that grades awarded are consistent with published standards. This means a grade a student receives in one school can be fairly compared to the same grade anywhere in NSW.

Step 2 Monitoring in school

This involves reviewing the history of grades awarded by your school to analyse patterns and clarify grading decisions. Schools are encouraged to use the historical grade pattern graphs on Schools Online Administration or in the Results Analysis Package to self-check or guide their grade patterns.

Schools will need to retain samples of student work towards the end of the identified courses at various points in the A to E distribution of grades. The samples will be a valuable resource for interpreting standards and can then be used in a variety of ways to ensure consistency of grading in the future.

When making comparisons, teachers should think about how their grades are justified by ensuring they are based on all available assessment information referenced by the relevant grade scale or performance descriptors and published standards.

Some useful questions to ask are:

  • Is the current pattern of grades different to past grading data?
  • If yes, was it expected?
  • What evidence is there to support the current grades?

Gathering evidence

The Board has provided a PowerPoint presentation, entitled How to use the grade monitoring support materials, on navigation and use of historical grade patterns, graphs and tables for Stage 5. From 2014 historical grade patterns will also be available for Preliminary courses.

Grading requirements

Principals are accountable to the Board for the pattern of grades awarded by their school at the end of Stage 5 and Preliminary courses.

The principal (or their delegates) will need to confirm that grades are consistent with published standards when they are submitted.

The Board of Studies monitors each school's pattern of grades and may in certain circumstances ask schools to review them. If this occurs, schools may need to provide evidence of samples of student work to support their judgements.

The Board will continue to work with schools to provide support and guidance to ensure consistent awarding of grades.

Schools can upload grades via Schools Online Administration.

Extra support

The Board's Assessment Resource Centre has information for teachers, principals and the whole school to help them establish practices and policies to support teachers' professional judgements and ensure valid and reliable reporting.

Grade monitoring support materials

How to use the grade monitoring support materials on Schools Online

Transcript of PowerPoint on grade monitoring

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