Assessment and Awards
Requirements for Internal Assessment
Reporting Internal Assessments
Archive Samples of Student Work
Movement between courses
Inability to Complete Course Requrements
Learners with disabilities/Special needs
Accelerationg Learner Achievement
Assessment and Awards
TASC accredited senior secondary courses identify learning outcomes to be assessed and their related standards. The number of learning outcomes assessed and the manner in which standards are defined varies between courses. Learners are assigned ratings, one on each of the assessed learning outcomes. In some courses a range of ratings (e.g. 'A', 'B', 'C') are defined by the standards. In other courses only a 'C' rating (e.g. 'satisfactory' standard) is defined.
Qualifications are issued by the Office of TASC. A qualification includes the course name, Level and the award gained. Awards are based on levels of achievement (ratings) on the set of a course's assessed learning outcomes. Award requirements are defined within individual course documents. Where there is an external assessment component, ratings from the external and internal assessment regimes are used to decide an award.
A successful learner receives an award such as:
EA - Exceptional Achievement
HA - High Achievement
CA - Commendable Achievement
SA - Satisfactory Achievement
PA - Preliminary Achievement
Satisfactory Completion; Pass; or Higher Pass.
Provider-based assessment (internal assessment) must gather information on learner achievement in terms of the assessed learning outcomes, standards, procedures and any work requirements specified in the course documentation. Providers choose assessment and recording methods that meet these requirements.
Planning course delivery and assessment
A scope and sequence document is an articulated plan for the delivery and assessment of a course. There is no TASC-prescribed format for such a plan. Typical formats include: spread-sheets; tables; and word processed documents. In some cases the delivery of the course might be in one scope and sequence document, and the assessment plan expressed as a matrix in a separate document.
A scope and sequence document has the following characteristics:
- a clear sequence indicating time. Time might be represented as lessons, days or weeks within terms. For example, a scope and sequence document might be broken down into teaching weeks within terms. In its totality the scope and sequence document will capture the complete period of delivery and assessment of the course
- a clear indication of course contents delivery (units, topics, subtopics, activities as per the course document) mapped to the sequence indicator. These may be supplemented by learning activities/lesson titles using school-based terms, and resources to be used.
- a clear indication of the major assessment tasks that will be undertaken by learners, and the criterion/ia each task assesses. These are mapped to the sequence and content delivery indicators.
It is understood that scope and sequence documents may require modification during the teaching and learning process to account for changes to initial plans.
Examples are given in the attached document: Planning Course Delivery and Assessment - Information on Scope and Sequence.
Providers must make sure that learners know the learning outcomes and standards against which their achievement is going to be assessed (they should know what is expected). When learners know how their achievement is being judged, they can monitor their progress and set targets for achievement. Documents that explain the assessed learning outcomes and standards to learners should be made available to learners.
Summative assessment tasks should include information identifying:
- the criterion/ia (and specific standard elements where appropriate) that will be assessed by a task
- the relative weighting/significance of the task to the overall assessment of the criterion/ia
- performance indicators to guide learners about the required characteristics of work to meet standards/ratings. While these are typically based on the criterion/ia standard elements to be assessed, performance indicators can serve to contextualise standard elements in light of the specific requirements of a particular assessment instrument.
Frequency of assessment
Teachers/assessors should schedule sufficient assessment tasks to enable them to provide valid, fair and reliable assessments. Once having clearly achieved a standard, learners should be provided with opportunities to improve their criteria ratings, or to focus on other assessed learning outcomes where remaining time could be spent to improve achievement.
Course providers should determine:
- when to use developmental forms of assessment (formative assessments which do not contribute to final assessments) to provide assessment experience for learners or to assess the progress of learners
- when to schedule assessments that contribute to learners' final assessment (see 'Planning course delivery and assessment' above)
- the extent to which learners are permitted to undertake additional summative assessment tasks so that the opportunity exists for them to best demonstrate achievement of particular assessed learning outcomes.
Validity of assessment
The assessment program for a TASC course should be a set of tasks that provides comprehensive coverage of all assessed learning outcomes and meets the requirements of the course.
Providers should use diverse assessment methods, for example, observations, assignments, tests, peer and self-assessment, and oral presentations, and should ensure that the methods selected enable learners clearly to demonstrate achievement. Tasks can be designed to enable assessment of more than one criterion (including external assessment tasks). It is most unlikely, however, that all the assessment requirements for a course could be assessed using one single piece of work.
Providers should take care not to over assess a particular learning outcome by including it as an assessable aspect of many tasks. For example, it is feasible to assess a particular learning outcome, such as "communicate ideas and information", in almost everything a learner undertakes in a course.
Assessment quality and equity
Assessment instruments specify the tasks which measure learners' attainment of the knowledge, skills, and competencies defined in and required by a course. Providers should take care that assessment tasks and conditions do not privilege certain groups of learners because of varying socio-economic, cultural, gender, and linguistic backgrounds. External assessments are expected to meet these standards for quality and equity.
Each assessment instrument should:
- give learners clear and definite instructions
- specify the assessed learning outcomes for which it has been set (even though these may differ according to the needs of the individuals in the class)
- in the case of summative assessments, be used under clear, definite and specified conditions that are substantially the same for all
- be used under conditions that do not present an inappropriate barrier to the equal participation of all.
Each assessment task should:
- clearly assess what it is intended to assess
- include specialist language or jargon only as an aid to clarity and accuracy
- avoid gratuitous reference to gender, socio-economic, ethnic or other cultural stereotypes
- maximise learners' opportunities to demonstrate achievement by being clearly presented through appropriate choice of layout, cues and visual design
- use as background material and require as assumed knowledge only that to which learners may reasonably be expected to have had ready access.
Requirements for Internal Assessment
For learners' internal assessments to be approved by TASC, providers must ensure that:
- the course of study complies with requirements specified in the course documentation
- each learner's performance is assessed against assessed learning outcomes stated in the course against the standards provided by TASC for that course
- they comply with all quality assurance requirements for the course.
Each assessment should refer specifically to course standards to provide advice, which guides learners towards specific improvement. Use of codes (e.g. A+, A, A-, B+, B, B- etc) or of marks (e.g. 1-10, %) should be avoided if these have no specific reference to course standards.
Problems can arise where teachers use 'A', 'B', and 'C' ratings to indicate progress towards the acquisition of a standard. This is most confusing particularly where the final rating is lower than the one issued as a progress indicator. If using such ratings as progress indicators an explanation of this is recommended.
Formal assessment records are to be maintained by the provider. The format of such records is not prescribed by TASC. They may, for example, take the form of traditional mark books or spreadsheets. Assessment records indicate the:
- nature of individual assessment tasks (e.g. Algebra Test 1, 'Impact of Tourism' Essay, 'Beach Environment' Project, Short fact test 3)
- criterion/ia assessed
- standard/s evidenced in the learner's work (e.g. marks, grades, percentages comments)
- date of the assessment
- relative weighting of the assessment instrument to the overall final rating.
Additionally assessment records should:
- be backed-up in some way in case of the loss of the original
- include notations regarding the final assessment rubric. This rubric describes the way in which the various marks/grades from individual assessments will be used to derive the final ratings to be reported to TASC at the end of the year
- be retained by the provider (for example, for reference if an individual teacher is on extended leave or transfers during the year). Assessment records may be required for TASC quality assurance purposes.
For more information about assessment records please see this Information Document.
Reporting Internal Assessments
Reporting Progress to Learners
Ratings ('A', 'B', 'C') are summary statements defined by standards. Awards (such as EA, HA, CA, SA, and PA) acknowledge the learner's overall achievement at the end of a course of study.
It can confuse confusion when providers report progress using symbols adopted by TASC to describe final assessments.
Our advice to any provider that does use EA, HA, CA, SA, and PA awards, and 'A', 'B', 'C' ratings as indicators of progress is that it should:
- make every effort to reduce the confusion this causes by stating very clearly that such reports are of progress towards that final assessment
- be clear that these reports are not a commitment that a learner will achieve this rating/award
- give clear indications of what improvements need to be made.
Reporting Final Internal Assessments to TASC
Registered course providers deliver and assess TASC-accredited courses, and report learner achievement against course criteria to TASC at the end of each academic year. The Office of TASC issues learners with qualifications based on these reported results. TASC must have confidence in the reliability, validity and integrity of the results reported by course providers. Such confidence is gained through a range of quality assurance methodologies. In extreme cases TASC might reject a provider's final ratings or adjust them if there is evidence to justify this, for example, if:
- assessment procedures have not been followed
- TASC's monitoring processes identify significant anomalies within a school with respect to the pattern of ratings between classes or between some assessed learning outcomes
- TASC quality assurance requirements have not been met and/or recommendations have been rejected.
For more information about the determination of final internal ratings to be reported to TASC please see this Information Document.
Changes to internal assessments
TASC will only accept changes to internal assessments after a school has checked and returned its awards and ratings where the principal provides sufficient evidence that a mistake was made due to administrative error.
Archived Samples of Student Work
A number of Level 2 courses have a quality assurance process that requires providers to table evidence - at the time of audit - of archived samples of individual's work, sufficient to illustrate the borderline between that judged as a SA or PA. To check if a course has this requirement, check the 'Quality Assurance' section of the course document. For further information about this requirement, please see Archived Samples of Student Work.
Movement Between Courses
Once teaching and learning has commenced some learners may find a chosen course to be too demanding, or may wish to attempt a more demanding course. This may lead to a learner moving, for example, from a Level 2 to a Level 3 course in the same learning area, or from a Level 3 to a Level 2 course. In such cases providers must:
- give careful consideration to the re-assessment of previously completed assessment tasks against the criterion/ia and standards of the 'new' course
- ensure that all the course contents and work requirements of the 'new' course are completed by the learner
- be mindful of the impact of such changes on TASC quality assurance requirements and processes.
It is expected that movement of learners between courses would be completed early in the academic year as individuals' needs become apparent. Early intervention is required so as to give learners as much time as possible to complete course contents and work requirements, and to have adequate opportunities for formative and summative assessments against the criterion/ia and standards of the 'new' course.
Inability to Complete Course Requirements
Chronic or frequent illness
Learners frequently absent through illness may require special arrangements and it is necessary to contact parents as soon as possible.
Arrangements could be made to enable learners to:
- complete their educational program and assessment tasks at home, with teacher support
- transfer their enrolment to flexible learning programs
- reduce the number of subjects they are attempting.
Learners who have missed assessments because of transfer from one school to another, or because of starting a subject late in the school year, should be given an opportunity to demonstrate their achievement against all learning outcomes. This does not necessarily mean that more tasks have to be completed, but it may mean that more criteria will need to be assessed within the task.
When selecting a course, learners should be made aware of difficulties associated with the delayed start, and what is expected of them because of their late entry. They should be made aware of the assessment program and the problems it may cause them by having to demonstrate progress where other learners have already had such an opportunity. They need to be made aware that for them tasks may be used to provide evidence of achievement of a greater number of learning outcomes than is expected from other learners in the class.
Learners unable to complete tasks due to injury or illness
It is the responsibility of providers to determine appropriate strategies to allow sick or injured learners to demonstrate achievement of internally assessed criteria.
Learners unable to complete tasks due to cultural beliefs
Learners unable to complete assessment tasks because of their cultural beliefs may be provided with alternative opportunities to demonstrate their achievement of course requirements.
Providers unable to devise suitable assessment strategies in particular cases should contact TASC to negotiate possible assessment options.
- counsel learners so that they do not select subjects which contain content or assessment elements that do not fit with their cultural beliefs
- offer learners alternative assessment strategies that conform with TASC course requirements.
Learners with interrupted studies (e.g. learners undertaking overseas exchange programs)
Some learners take up overseas scholarships and similar opportunities that require them to interrupt their senior secondary studies, and so need to spread one year of their studies over two calendar years.
Learners wishing to undertake studies spread over two calendar years must:
- make arrangements with their learning provider to complete the year's study over two years before they leave
- be aware that some courses require different material each year (for example, English texts may change) and therefore such courses may not be suitable to study over two years
- check with their school to find out if major changes to courses are planned in the two-year period
- complete any external assessment requirements at the end of the second year.
The provider should collect and keep a detailed record of the learner's assessment for each criterion in each course. All work that has been assessed should be kept.
A learner who has completed all the internal requirements of a course with an external examination before leaving for overseas can apply to sit the external examination at an approved centre in the country where he or she is situated.
Learners with Disabilities / Special Needs
Learners with special needs
Successful completion of courses with a complexity level of Level 1 and above can contribute credit points towards the participation and achievement standards of the TCE. Level 1 is an approximate match to the demand/complexity of the competencies in the definition of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate I.
These are competencies that enable an individual to:
- demonstrate knowledge by recall in a narrow range of areas
- demonstrate basic practical skills such as the use of relevant tools
- perform a sequence of routine tasks given clear instruction
- receive and pass on messages/information.
Some Level 1 courses may be suitable for some learners with special needs or disabilities.
TASC can accredit courses at a level preliminary to Level 1. Successful completion of such courses may be listed on the Qualifications Certificate. Such courses do not contribute to the standards of the TCE.
Equality in opportunities to participate in learning
The Australian Disability Standards for Education (2005) require that learning providers and TASC ensure that learners with disabilities are afforded substantive equality in opportunities to participate in learning experiences and complete assessment and certification requirements.
With reference to the legal requirements of the Standards, course providers might:
- advise learners of the possibility and implications of not being able to meet all course requirements
- provide learners with alternative learning and assessment procedures and, at the same time, maintain the constraints and spirit of the assessment requirements
- counsel learners into a more suitable course if appropriate
- allow learners more time or assistance to show what they know and can do.
One way in which TASC strives to ensure that senior secondary learners with disabilities are afforded equality in opportunities to participate in learning is via the practice of making reasonable adjustments to its procedures. Examples of such adjustments include the granting of special examination consideration/conditions and the provision of TASC documents in various formats. TASC is also willing to review its course documents to ensure equality of opportunity to participate in learning. It should be noted, however, that the academic standards of any given course (that is, its level of complexity of learning and standards) will not be modified to meet an individual's special needs - to receive an award, a learner must meet the standards for that award.
Accelerating Learner Achievement
Learners come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them a range of knowledge, skills and experiences. Learners should not be expected to continue in courses where they are not suitably challenged, and opportunities for them to progress to higher levels of difficulty should be explored.
Alternatively, highly capable learners may be offered extended courses embracing a higher number of courses where the school or college is able to make such provision.
Where some learning outcomes are easily met, learners should be counselled to focus on those where difficulties are being encountered.