The Board of Studies syllabuses advocate assessment that
supports learning in a standards-reference framework.
Standards are defined as:
- what students are expected
- how well they have achieved.
Board syllabuses and support materials refer to Assessment for Learning.
"Assessment for learning is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to
decide where the learners are
in their learning, and where they
need to go and how best to
(Assessment Reform Group 2002)
- Collecting information on a student's achievement.
- Using it to improve and progress their learning.
In NSW, the judgement 'Knowing where the learners are and where
they need to go' can be made by teachers in relation to the
- The NSW syllabuses state what students at each stage are
expected to learn.
- the depth of knowledge and understanding
- The A to E grade scale summarises how well students achieve at each
grade by describing
range of skills
students working at that standard typically show.
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.
student has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the content and a
high level of competence in the processes and skills. In addition, the
student is able to apply this knowledge and these skills to most
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.
student has achieved a basic knowledge and understanding of the content
and has achieved a limited level of competence in the processes and
student has an elementary knowledge and understanding in few areas of
the content and has achieved very limited competence in some of the
processes and skills.
together, syllabuses and the A to E grade scale show where the learner
is expected to be and where they can progress to, and the quality of
how best to get there' is a key professional skill.
Teachers design and
deliver appropriate learning programs.
- What content,
learning experiences and instruction will students need?
Teachers look for evidence that students are learning, understanding
and demonstrating knowledge and skills.
Two key questions -
- What evidence of
learning is required?
Sound evidence can
include information from:
- How will this
evidence be gathered?
- planned assessment
activities as part of learning
Good assessment aims to be:
- informal observations made in the
classroom where appropriate.
- Valid - it is
strongly connected to what is being learnt.
- Reliable -
information from the assessment can be trusted.
Examples of threats to good assessment:
- Manageable - it is
not a burden to the teacher or student.
- An inappropriate task
- last year's test used for this year's students when the learning
content and skills have changed.
- An activity that does
not allow the range of students to show what they know - too easy, too
hard, or closed.
- Poor time allocation
- an activity that takes too long or cannot be done in the time
- Bias - eg. a task
that favours boys or tall people.
- Inconsistent marking
- marking criteria do not fit the task or are not applied consistently.
assessment - 'there is so much assessment, I have no time for teaching!'
evidence drawn from good assessment provides the basis for:
- checking student
- deciding the next
- reporting the status
Meaningful feedback drawn from sound evidence is essential
to help students in their learning.
Meaningful feedback aims to:
- Help learners know
how to improve;
- Develop the capacity
- Recognize a variety
As assessment in
teaching and learning occurs teachers can choose to record aspects of
students' performance to be used as evidence for reporting where a
student is placed against standards.
- Evidence can be
recorded using a variety of codes eg. marks, grades, descriptors.
- Teachers choose a
code that best summarises the qualities of the work assessed.
Use the grade scale to allocate an A-E grade to individual pieces of
In this approach a piece of work receiving an A meets the standard for
an A described in the grade scale.
Use marks or grades to indicate the relative quality of individual
pieces of work.
In this approach a piece of work receiving a high mark may not
necessarily meet the standard for an A described in the grade scale.
- Use the grade scale
to allocate grades to individual pieces of work.
- Decide the final
grade by weighing up all of the information collected and making an
on-balance judgement as to the appropriate grade to award each student.
- Allocating marks or
grades to individual pieces of work without reference to the grade
- Decide the final
grade to be reported by aggregating the marks or grades for each
student; ordering the students from top to bottom; decide by referring
to the grade scale and work samples between which pairs of students the
change from one grade to another occurs.
FAQs Approach 1
What if a student's results are not consistent?
eg. Task 1 C Task 2
A Task 3 B
Does this average to a C?
Answers to Consider.
Do results 2 and 3 represent the latest and fullest picture of
achievement? If so they should carry more weight in your on-balance
FAQs Approach 2
Q. If a student's results add up to 90/100 should they
automatically get an A?
Q. I put my students in order according to their marks and now I am
worried that the order is not accurate. Student 10 has demonstrated
grade A while student 9 is in the B range. What can I do?
Using the ARC.
Teachers can use work samples with their students to:
- Discuss features of
the samples and relate them to the work about to be done ... show them
what good work looks like.
can use ARC materials themselves or with colleagues to:
- Compare students'
work to that in the samples as part of providing feedback on how to
- Build an
understanding of the standards.
in focusing their teaching and imparting that information to