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Work samples Years 11–12 (including Higher School Certificate)

Years 11 and 12 English Studies course

The Stage 6 English Studies course is a Content Endorsed Course with no Higher School Certificate examination. The course aims to meet the specific needs of students who are seeking an alternative to the English (Standard) course and who intend to proceed from school into employment or vocational training. Results in the course cannot be included in the calculation of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

In the English Studies course, students explore the ideas, values, language forms, features and structures of texts in a range of personal, social, cultural and workplace contexts. They respond to and compose texts to extend experience and understanding, access information and assess its reliability, and synthesise the knowledge gained from a range of sources for a variety of purposes.

Assessment in English Studies

Assessment is the process of gathering information and making judgements about student achievement for a variety of purposes. Those purposes include:

  • assisting student learning
  • evaluating and improving teaching and learning programs
  • providing evidence of satisfactory achievement and completion in the Preliminary course
  • providing the Higher School Certificate results.

Schools develop their own internal assessment programs using the content, outcomes, components and weightings detailed in the English Studies syllabus on pp 53-55.

Reporting achievement in English Studies for the HSC

Schools submit internal assessment marks which are reported on the Record of Achievement using Stage 6 English Studies course performance descriptions. These performance descriptions have been developed to describe the standards to be used for reporting student achievement at the end of the HSC year.

The purpose of aligned student work samples

The student work samples aligned to English Studies course performance descriptions assist teachers in their understanding of the standards for the English Studies course. Viewed together, the work samples show the standard of work typically produced by students across the range of performance descriptions for the course. Teachers can then apply the performance descriptions to report the achievement of their students.

The alignment of a work sample to a particular performance description is an indication that the performance, on balance, best matches that performance description.

The student work samples on this site are all authentic pieces of student work. The tasks have come from Board of Studies publications, and from practising teachers across New South Wales. Further tasks and work samples will be added to the website over time.

The process of aligning student work samples

The student work samples have been aligned to performance descriptions by practising teachers. They use their knowledge and experience of teaching English Studies students to make a professional judgement about each work sample.

In aligning the work samples to performance descriptions, teachers carefully consider the performance descriptions to picture the types of knowledge, skills and understanding that students would typically demonstrate at the end of either the Preliminary or HSC year. They look closely at:

  • the content of each module
  • the purpose of the assessment tasks
  • the criteria for assessing learning.

Each work sample is read or viewed in detail and discussed with other teachers to ensure that the performance descriptions indicated are objective and consistent.

Commentaries accompanying student work samples

To assist teachers to understand why a work sample was aligned to a particular performance description, each sample is accompanied by a 'commentary' that describes aspects of the sample that relate to performance as described in the English Studies course performance descriptions. The commentary describes aspects of the sample that demonstrate the standard that would typically be produced by a student whose overall achievement best matches that performance description.

Applying English Studies course performance descriptions in reporting student achievement

Assessing student achievement

Assessing student achievement is the process of collecting information on student performance in relation to the objectives and outcomes of a course.

Schools should develop an assessment program following the Board's requirements, using the content, outcomes, components and weightings as detailed in the English Studies syllabus on pp 53-55. By measuring student achievement in relation to these objectives and outcomes, a profile of the achievement of each student in relation to the course performance descriptions is developed.

Generally, it will be necessary to use a number of different assessment activities or tasks, usually three to five, in order to ensure that student achievement in relation to all the knowledge and skills objectives is assessed. When deciding the number and type of assessment tasks and activities, the emphasis should be on the nature and quality rather than on the amount of evidence. A single piece of work will not cover all aspects of a mark range description. Assessment tasks and activities should give students opportunities to show what they know and can do. Therefore, students should be provided with opportunities to display their achievements in different ways and to work in a range of situations.

Tasks should be scheduled throughout the course, giving greater weight to those tasks undertaken towards the end of the course. There are, however, a number of different ways of organising the teaching/learning program for a course. Students should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their maximum level of achievement relative to the English Studies performance descriptions.

At the start of the year, schools should provide students with information about each task and the total assessment program, including the nature and requirements of each task, the weighting of each task, when it will be administered and/or due and how it will be marked. After each task students should be provided with detailed feedback on how they performed and how they can improve. Principals have the authority to decide on and to implement disability provisions for school-based assessments and tests.

At the end of the assessment program for English Studies, schools combine the marks awarded for each task according to the stipulated weightings in the English Studies syllabus. The school then submits a single mark for each student to the Board of Studies using the Stage 6 English Studies course performance descriptions. Objectives from the affective domain (ie values and attitudes) should not be used in determining a student's mark.

Using teacher professional judgement

Teachers should use their professional judgement in applying the course performance descriptions. The description that provides the best overall description of the student's achievement will determine the mark awarded within the mark range. Teachers should interpret the course performance descriptions in terms of standards that can be achieved by English Studies students within the bounds of the English Studies course. The samples of student work that are provided on the Assessment Resource Centre website clarify the standards described in the course performance descriptions. They illustrate the quality of work typically produced by students within each mark range.

Applying the course performance descriptions: making an on-balance professional judgement

The performance descriptions developed for English Studies describe the main features of a typical student's performance within each mark range measured against the syllabus objectives and outcomes for English Studies.

The final judgement of the most appropriate mark will be made on the basis of available assessment information and with reference to the course performance descriptions. These descriptions should be interpreted in terms of standards that can be achieved by English Studies students within the bounds of the course. The student work samples on the Year 12 section of the ARC provide examples of typical student performance within the mark ranges of the English Studies performance descriptions.

There are many suitable models that schools may consider appropriate when determining the marks to be submitted to the Board of Studies. One approach is provided below:

  1. Combine the marks awarded in each task to obtain a total mark for each student.
  2. On the basis of these marks, determine the order of merit for the group.
  3. Identify the mark you believe corresponds to the borderline between each of the performance descriptions. Each mark range description should be considered with the descriptions for the mark ranges that are above and below the selected mark range to ensure that the correct mark range has been selected.
  4. Once a correspondence is established between school assessment marks and the cut-off points between the mark ranges on the performance scale, it is possible to align (transfer) all marks to the scale so that:
    • the school assessment mark that is the borderline between 90-100 mark range and 80-89 mark range is adjusted to 90
    • the school assessment mark that is the borderline between 80-89 mark range and 70-79 mark range is adjusted to 80
    • the school assessment mark that is the borderline between 70-79 mark range and 60-69 mark range is adjusted to 70
    • the school assessment mark that is the borderline between 60-69 mark range and 50-59 mark range is adjusted to 60
    • the school assessment mark that is the borderline between 50-59 mark range and 0-50 is adjusted to 50
    • school assessment marks that are below 50 are reported within that mark range.
    Software packages such as the Board's Motorised Markbook can assist in this process.
  5. A critical part of the procedure is to develop a clear understanding of the knowledge, skills and understanding typically possessed by students who are at the borderlines of the performance bands. The work samples on the Year 12 section of the ARC website will assist in developing that clear understanding.
  6. Review the mark awarded to each student to make sure that no anomaly has occurred. The cut-off or borderline mark may require adjustment after consideration of students' achievement at or near each mark range cut-off.

Consistent teacher judgements

The consistency of judgements about marks within and between schools comes from:

  • following the English Studies syllabus
  • using the course performance descriptions
  • considering shared samples of student work.

The commentaries accompanying the student work samples on the ARC also help by giving reasons for the different mark ranges shown for each work sample. Teachers in every school can use the same standards to report so that there is consistency within the school and across the state.

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