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Assessing and reporting student achievement

The page describes the methods of assessing student achievement in the range of subjects studied in schools in South Australia, and how these assessments are reported on senior secondary certificates and related documents.

The page does not refer to the calculation of tertiary entrance scores or rankings.

1. Assessment

Assessment is a judgement on a student’s achievement or progress in a subject, and indicates the level of knowledge, skills and understanding achieved by the student in that subject. Teachers and assessors use performance standards for each subject to decide, based on the evidence provided, how well a student has demonstrated their learning in the subject.

There are two methods of assessing students’ academic achievement:

In South Australia, assessments in Stage 1 are school based. All Stage 2 subjects have both a school assessment and an external assessment component.

External assessments

In Stage 2, external assessments can take the form of an external examination, investigation, or a performance.

Examinations

Students who study a subject that is assessed by an external examination normally sit for the same examination at the end of the study period. SACE Board-appointed examination setters and vetters design assessment tasks that allow students to provide evidence of their learning. Specific features from the assessment design criteria, as well as performance standards, for the subject are used to develop a marking scheme that is applied to the questions or sections of the external examination. On this basis, the marking scheme is designed to assess the quality of learning that students demonstrate in the examination.

Investigations

Students who study a subject that is assessed by an external investigation normally submit their investigation towards the end of the study period. Teachers design the tasks according to guidelines, assessment design criteria, and performance standards for the subject. Investigations are marked twice with reference to the performance standards; first, by the teacher, and second, by a SACE-appointed marker.

Performances

Students who study a subject that is assessed by an external performance are assessed at a time that is negotiated between the school and the SACE Board. Teachers design the performance according to guidelines, assessment design criteria, and performance standards for the subject. Performances are marked twice with reference to the performance standards; first, by the teacher, and second, by a SACE-appointed marker.

School assessment

School assessment is undertaken by teachers in schools using a variety of assessment methods.

Moderation

At Stage 1, school assessment in English and Mathematics, and the Personal Learning Plan, are moderated by the SACE Board. The role of moderation in Stage 1 is to confirm schools’ assessment decisions towards the end of the teaching and learning program, and before schools report students’ results to the SACE Board.

At Stage 2, all school assessment is moderated. The role of moderation in Stage 2 is to confirm schools’ assessment decisions at the end of the teaching and learning program, and before the SACE Board reports results to students.

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2. Reporting

Stage 1 subjects (Year 11)

Results for Stage 1 subjects are reported using grades A, B, C, D or E. These grades are awarded on the basis of performance standards, which describe the knowledge, skills and understanding that teachers refer to in deciding, on the basis of evidence provided, how well a student has demonstrated their learning. The Board reports achievement in some Board-accredited subjects (eg modified subjects for students with identified intellectual disabilities) as ‘completed’. No marks are reported for Stage 1 subjects.

Stage 2 subjects (Year 12)

Results for Stage 2 subjects are reported using grade levels that range from A+ to E– (or A–E for Community Studies). The school assessment component is weighted at 70% and the external assessment component at 30%. The school assessment and external assessment grades are combined to produce a student’s final subject grade. Subject grades are based on the performance standards, which describe the knowledge, skills and understanding that teachers refer to in deciding, on the basis of evidence provided, how well a student has demonstrated their learning. The Board reports achievement in some Board-accredited subjects (eg modified subjects for students with identified intellectual disabilities) as ‘completed’.

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3. FAQs

What assessment method(s) are used for the senior secondary school leaving credential in South Australia?

In assessing student achievement for the award of the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), the SACE Board of South Australia uses a combination of:

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How are the marks determined in the senior secondary school credentialling program in South Australia?

Stage 1 (Year 11)

Student achievement in Stage 1 is reported using the grades A, B, C, D or E. Teachers make decisions by using the approved assessment weightings from their learning and assessment plans. Teachers use the SACE Board’s school assessment grade calculator to combine the grades. The subject grade for each student must reflect the performance standards.

Stage 2 (Year 12)

Student achievement in Stage 2 is reported using three assessment grade levels (+, mid-grade, and –) within each grade band (A, B, C, D or E). Teachers report student achievement against each assessment task using grades or marks that allow valid, reliable and fair judgements of assessments against performance standards. Subject grades are arrived at by combining these assessment grades or aggregating the marks. Whichever method is used, grades must reflect the performance standards for the subject.

School assessment

Teachers assign a numerical value to the grade levels between A+ and E– to each assessment type. There are two to three school assessment types for each Stage 2 subject.

External assessment

For externally assessed investigations and performances, teachers assign a numerical value to the grade levels between A+ and E– to each assessment type.

For externally assessed examinations, markers assign a numerical value. At the completion of the marking process, the numerical values are aligned with the performance standards.

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