Senior School Assessment Policy - 2018 

Willetton Senior High School Senior School Assessment Policy is developed in accordance with School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) and Department of Education (DoE) principles of validity, explicitness, comprehensiveness and fairness. Responsibility for explaining the policy rests with the teacher and once the policy has been presented and fully explained to the student, responsibility for adhering to the policy rests with the student.

Assessment is used to:

  • diagnose learning issues and assist in the development of strategies
  • provide formative feedback to improve student performance on subsequent assessments
  • monitor the progress of students through fair and valid judgements
  • measure the achievement of students and inform reporting on progress and achievement
  • guide the selection of courses and assist vocational counselling

Provision of course information

A copy of the course syllabus, a course outline and an assessment outline will be issued to students by each teacher at the commencement of every course. These will clearly state the:

  • sequence in which the content will be covered
  • the learning activities and the expected learning outcomes for each activity
  • types of assessments and a general description of each assessment
  • weightings to be applied to the various assessments
  • frequency and approximate timing of assessments (courses which involve formal examinations will avoid setting assessments on examinable work in the week prior to the examination period, to ensure students receive feedback before sitting the examination)

Students will receive timely feedback with access provided to an explicit marking key for all assessment tasks, including examinations. This will be provided before students undertake subsequent assessments on similar content or of a similar type. Additional information is given under the heading Access to Assessments Documentation and Marked Assessment Tasks.

VET Qualification information

A copy of the qualification outline, units, assessment, length, pathways, rights and responsibilities will be issued to students by each trainer.

Examinations and Externally Set Tasks

Semester One written examinations/tasks will be held in mid Term Two for all Year 11 ATAR courses and Year 12 ATAR and General courses. All Year 12 students taking a General course are required to sit an Externally Set Task during Term Two; this contributes 15% to their final mark.

Year 12 students sit the Semester Two ATAR school examinations (mock WACE) during the second week of the September/October vacation and the first days of Term Four. Year 11 Semester Two ATAR course examinations will held be in mid-November. Practical, performance and oral components of examinations will be scheduled before the written examinations in both semesters.

All students are required to sit the examinations and externally set tasks as they are mandated in the SCSA assessment regime and a core part of demonstrating completion of the course. Students and parents are advised to monitor the School Calender for exact dates and to schedule holidays and events for other times that do not conflict with these times.

Examinations are typically 2 to 3 hours in length and an examination timetable will be issued to students and placed on the school website a few weeks prior. Information on examination rules and conditions is permanently on the website.

Reporting

Students will receive a Semester One report, including a progress mark and provisional grade and an examination mark where applicable. The final grades and marks shown on the end of year report will be the combined achievement of the student over the entire year. For all ATAR and General courses, students are awarded both a grade and a mark out of 100. Courses with a practical component will also receive a mark out of 100 for that component.

Reporting of VET qualifications will indicate progress towards the competencies included in that qualification (not started, at risk, on track, in progress, not completed or competent).

On completion of the qualification the student’s report will also indicate whether the qualification has been successfully achieved.

There are compulsory external WACE examinations for all final year students in ATAR courses. For Year 12 students, the school scores will be combined with the student’s WACE examination scores and then scaled. The best four scaled scores are added to form a Tertiary Entrance Aggregate (TEA) and this is then converted to an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) for university entrance. Eligible students will also receive a 10% bonus to their TEA from their best Language Other Than English (LOTE) scaled score as well as for their Mathematics Methods and Mathematics Specialist scaled scores, irrespective if these scaled scores were counted in their best four.

Assessment Practices and Consequences

Course completion

A student must complete the structured educational and assessment program for each course. A student who, without acceptable reason, does not meet this requirement will be at risk of receiving a D or E grade. Grades below C may place the achievement of the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) at risk. The class teacher will notify the parent in writing about the risk of failure for the student. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily, there will be subsequent communication with the parent by the Heads of Learning Area or the Program Coordinator.

Students with poor attendance are at risk of receiving a D or E grade and they will be referred to the Student Services staff. Parents will be contacted and a plan developed and action taken in a collaborative manner. Chronic non-attendance may be referred to the regional office for intervention.

VET Qualification Achievement

To achieve certification for a full qualification, students must successfully complete all assessments in every unit of competency and demonstrate competence in each assessment task and the overall unit of competency. If the students receive an outcome for a task of not yet competent, they will be given two chances to re-submit or re-do the task to achieve competence. The assessor will identify the gaps and guide the student in how to address them to achieve competence when the student repeats the task. If the repeat outcome is still unsatisfactory the assessor may advise the student to re-enrol (if the student is in the first year of the qualification) or assess the student as not competent (if the student is in the final year of delivery) in the unit/qualification.

Formal tests, examinations and assessment tasks

All absences from assessments need to be covered by written evidence. Students who are absent due to illness, injury or similar mitigating factors are required to submit a certificate from a medical practitioner or similar authorising officer, unless there are exceptional circumstances. If the student is absent for a reason other than illness, the learning area is to be contacted by phone on the day of the assessment. Absences for non-essential activities will not be accepted as a valid reason for missing assessments and students may be asked to substantiate the reason for any non-medical absences.

Copies of certificates and other documents are to be submitted to:

  • the teacher concerned, in the case of formal tests and assessment tasks
  • Student Services staff, in the case of examinations

It is usual that a mark of zero is given if proof is not provided immediately the student returns to school.

Where the student’s reason for absence from a formal assessment can be shown to be reasonable in the circumstances and unavoidable, appropriate arrangements will be made to sit an assessment at a different time to obtain an alternative, equitable measure of achievement and to provide feedback on the student’s performance. The alternative measure will be decided by the teacher in consultation with the head of learning area and will be negotiated to be fair and consistent across all classes taking the course.

If the student cannot demonstrate a valid reason for the absence, a mark of zero will be recorded for part or all of that assessment and the teacher will notify the parent in writing that there may be a risk of failure for the student.

Family holidays during the term or examination period are not considered a valid reason for non-completion or non-submission of assessment tasks. In exceptional circumstances and with sufficient notification, the parent may negotiate the development of an individual educational plan with the Program Coordinator to cater for the missed learning and assessment program.

If a student misses a large number of tests, examinations, or assessment tasks, even if the absences are covered by medical certificates, further investigation and appropriate action will be taken to ensure that any grades/marks issued by the school are valid.

Where a catastrophic event (e.g. a pandemic, school closure) affects delivery of the teaching program, the completion or submission of one or more assessment tasks and/or completion of the school examination timetable, students will be advised by school staff of modifications to the task requirements and/or the assessment outline, including the due date.

Assignments, reports, essays, portfolios, diaries and projects (other than VET qualifications)

Students are required to submit all assessments to the classroom teacher by the scheduled session on the due date. Students experiencing difficulty meeting a deadline must discuss this with the teacher at the earliest possible time, before the date on which the assessment is due. An extension of time for an individual student can give an unfair advantage and so, in general, extensions will not be granted.

The penalty for late work is 10% per school day, which will be calculated in relation to the actual mark awarded to the student for their performance in the assessment. Deductions will not force a piece of work to be awarded below 50% of the marks allocated to the assessment in the assessment outline. Students are advised to submit assessments on the due date, even if incomplete, to avoid a penalty.

Work submitted after marked papers have been returned to the class will not usually receive a score of more than 50% and it must be submitted for course completion to be achieved. In cases where a student is at risk of failure, there may be a requirement to submit additional work or to resubmit work until it meets the required standard.

In-class and individual assessment tasks

To ensure the reliability of the school’s marks when making a judgement about a student’s performance on an assessment task, the school must be confident that the work is the student’s own. It is important that the student is the original author of all work presented for assessment and others should not provide more than a minor degree of support to produce the task. All courses will have tasks that are completed under supervision and can be vouched for as demonstrating the student’s unassisted ability and these may be used to make comparisons to unsupervised work.

In the case of multiple classes of the one course, learning areas will conduct assessment tasks in a manner that ensures there is no transfer of information which could advantage some students. This may require the use of extended school hours. If past papers are used, they will be modified to such an extent as to prevent advantage to any students who may have prior access to the papers.

Individual in-class assessments form a part of the continuous assessment for each student. To ensure accurate and fair assessment, each student is expected to be present for every in-class activity. Assessment for students absent from in-class activities will be in accordance with the policy outlined under Formal Tests, Examinations and Assessment Tasks.

Group tasks

If students are working as a member of a group on an assessment task, they have a responsibility to that group. A process that identifies individual performance will be part of the group assessment structure, so that a group is not penalised for an individual’s failure to complete an assessment and to enable an individual student’s work to be independently assessed.

Access to assessment documentation and marked assessment tasks

To ensure that assessments are educationally sound and contribute to learning the following practices are to be followed.

In all Courses of Study the assessment criteria should be made explicit to students prior to the assessment to focus their attention on what they have to achieve. This is done by providing students with an outline which details the specific knowledge, skills and understandings that will be covered in the assessment.

A marking key for each assessment task, other than an Externally Set Task, must be developed by the teacher to make clear and explicit the criteria used to award marks. Marking keys should:

  • help to ensure a consistent interpretation of the criteria that guide the awarding of marks
  • provide the basis of feedback to students
  • result in the effective ranking of student achievement/performance

A review of student performance must occur in class. At this time students must have access to the marked assessment task, the Task Outline and/or the marking key, on which students can annotate particular areas of weakness and methods of addressing these.

Students are then able to retain one or more of the following (which ones are at the discretion of the teacher):

  • their marked assessment task (or copy)
  • the annotated marking key
  • the annotated task outline

Access to students’ marked assessment tasks and related marking keys retained by teachers must be made available to students under supervised conditions at times suitable to both parties.

NB: VET Certificate qualifications are required to comply with RTO requirements for that individual qualification. These RTO requirements take the place of the school based requirements.

The only exception to the above requirements for provision of Task Outline, marking key and retention of material by students is Maths Investigation or Practical Application tasks where, due to the nature of the tasks, teachers are required to provide effective feedback but may retain all work and marking keys.

Assessing students with special education needs

Where students have specific learning disabilities that do not allow them to demonstrate their ability within the usual assessment arrangements, then some allowances can be made. Documentary evidence will be required to inform the school of this as soon as the disadvantage is identified. Such evidence should be given to the Deputy Principal in charge of examinations and reporting, the School Psychologist and to the Year Coordinator, one of whom will provide general information to the class teachers.

It is the responsibility of the student and parent to monitor that the correct provisions are made. Where a parent is concerned that a student has not received the appropriate support, or that the support needs to be reviewed, then it is most effective to make direct contact with the class teacher. Informing the Year Coordinator or Resource Unit teachers of such issues is recommended.

There are times where a student cannot complete work in the form that has been chosen by the teacher. In such cases the teacher may, in consultation with the head of learning area and Deputy Principal reporting and assessment, modify the set task to accommodate the individual requirements of the student. If these requirements are ongoing in nature, then an individual education plan should be devised. Students who require additional assistance in assessment tasks and examinations are provided with arrangements consistent with those approved for ATAR course examinations by the SCSA.

For VET qualifications, reasonable adjustments will be provided for applicants/students with special learning needs (such as disability or a learning difficulty) according to the nature of the learning need and the requirements of the relevant Training Package.

Retention and disposal of student work

Students are responsible for retaining all of their marked written assessment tasks until after the appeal deadline (November for Year 12 and December for Year 11). This material is required by the teacher/s when assigning grades at the completion of the pair of units and may be required by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority for moderation purposes. To assist in this process, particular courses may instead choose to establish an assessment file for each student for each course/program.

All assessment files created by teachers must be retained until the marks have been accepted by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority. The school will only use the materials for moderation purposes unless written permission is obtained from the student. The school will securely dispose of all materials not collected by the students after this time. All recorded evidence of performance for non-written assessment tasks is deleted/erased.

Assessments missed because of a course change or transfer from another school

Students must be aware that they may be disadvantaged by late arrival in a course. When a student does have a late entry to a course or qualification, it is essential that they acquire from the teacher, a course outline and assessment schedule that clearly indicates:

  • course work covered prior to their entry
  • assessments already completed and the proportion of the total mark allocated to these
  • missed or additional work that the teacher recommends to be done for success in the course, with revised due dates that are manageable in the circumstances

Questions about this should be directed firstly to the class teacher and if more action is needed, Heads of Learning Area may provide specific information to manage a student who has entered a class after the commencement of the course and appears to be at risk of not succeeding.

Where a student enters from another school, it is that student’s responsibility to provide the Willetton SHS teacher with assessments from the previous school and sufficient information to determine where their achievement stands in relation to the course and other students at this school. The teacher may credit the student with marks where the tasks are comparable.

It is important that students monitor their progress in a course and if necessary, they are encouraged to seek changes to their courses as early as possible in first term. The final date for most changes of course is the end of Week 8, Term One. The deadline for entry into available certificate qualifications is the end of Week 5, Term One. Students need to enter into discussion of progress prior to this so that decisions regarding course or certificate changes can be made in a timely manner.

Where the teacher has concerns for the student’s ability to succeed after the change of course, they will contact the student’s parents to discuss the situation and inform the Program Coordinator.

Additional opportunity for students to complete a task

In exceptional circumstances and after negotiation with the teacher and Heads of Learning Area, a student may be provided with additional opportunity to complete an assessment task. The mark awarded for this task will be judged on a basis which is equitable and fair for all students in the course, while taking into consideration the individual’s situation.

Cheating and Plagiarism in Assessments

Cheating occurs when a student acts dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage over other students (Oxford Living Dictionaries). This is a serious offence and can result in zero marks being awarded for part or all of the assessment. Students who cheat in formal tests and examinations will be penalised.

Plagiarism is stealing phrases from writings of another and publishing or claiming them as one’s own (Learnthat.org). It can be deliberate or due to lack of care. Students who plagiarise will be dealt with by the Head of Learning Area and their assessment mark adjusted to reflect the degree to which the work is not their own. All work submitted must be the original work of the student, unless any original content is clearly discriminated and the source acknowledged in the appropriate manner.

Any activity that allows a student to have an unfair advantage over other students is unacceptable. All work submitted, including practical assessments must be the students own work. Cheating and/or plagiarism is a breach of the school behaviour code and will result in a behaviour record and can result in further disciplinary action.

Breach of Assessment Rules

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure all instructions relating to sitting assessments are understood. Students are not to collude with other students, have possession or knowledge of assessment questions before an assessment or have possession of unauthorised materials during the assessment.

Bags, pencil cases that are not made of clear material, calculator cases, calculator instruction booklets, external storage media and map templates are not permitted.

Assessment Procedure for Mobile Technologies

All mobile phones must be turned off and left at the front of the room in bags or as directed by the teacher in charge, together with any mobile technologies such as a smart watch, iPod, MP3/4, computers, tablets and laptops that may provide an unfair advantage. No responsibility will be accepted by the teacher or supervisor for your personal property.

If students are found with a mobile phone or other unauthorised device on their person during a test, assessment or examination regardless of whether use has been established, the student may have their marks cancelled or reduced.

Assessment review procedures

Students are entitled to check their results. This may relate to a single task or assessment, or to the end of semester marks and grades. Students who wish to do this must initially approach the course teacher. If the issue is not settled, the student and parent should address their concerns in writing to Heads of Learning Area. Where this does not resolve the issue, an appeals panel consisting of Heads of Learning Area or their nominee, a Deputy Principal and a Student Services representative may be formed.

Appeals will only be considered in the context of this assessment policy and within a two week period of the student receiving the result.