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Assessment Resource Centre

Board of Studies NSW

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  2. Years 9-10
  3. Stage 5 Grading
  4. Course Performance Descriptors
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Course Performance Descriptors


Index to courses

To see a course performance descriptor for a particular subject, go to the index page.

Stage 5 grading

Schools are responsible for awarding each student a grade (A, B, C, D, or E) to summarise the students achievement in any 100 hour or 200 hour course completed in Stage 5. In Mathematics, grades have been further differentiated to nine levels (A10, A9, B8, B7, C6, C5, D4, D3 and E2). The grade awarded is reported on the student's Record of School Achievement.

Teachers should use these Stage 5 course performance descriptors to determine Stage 5 grades. The descriptors have been developed from the Boards general performance descriptors, and provide a more complete description of typical performance in this course at each grade level.

Determining Stage 5 grades

Teachers should follow their schools procedures for the allocation of Stage 5 grades.

During the course teachers collect information on the achievement of each student. To allocate a grade to a student at the end of the course, teachers make a judgement as to which grade descriptor best describes the achievement of that student.

Values and attitudes are an integral part of learning. However, information on students' values and attitudes is not to be used in determining grades.

Assessment activities

In developing and selecting assessment activities for the purpose of determining Stage 5 grades, teachers will use a range of different assessment activities or tasks. The assessment activities should reflect the relative emphasis the schools programs place on the various aspects of the course.

Where activities or tasks are scheduled throughout a course, greater weight for grading purposes would generally be given to those activities or tasks undertaken towards the end of the course. There are different ways of organising the teaching/learning program for a course.

The scheduling of assessment activities and the weightings applied should reflect the schools organisation of the course. Students should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their maximum level of achievement relative to the course performance descriptors.

Applying the course performance descriptors

Teachers should use their professional judgement in applying the course performance descriptors. It is not intended that the course performance descriptors represent a checklist, or provide a comprehensive description of student performance at each grade level. The descriptor that provides the best overall description of the students achievement will determine the grade awarded.

Teachers should interpret the course performance descriptors in terms of standards that can be achieved by students within the bounds of the course.

The samples of student work that are provided on the Assessment Resource Centre website clarify the standards described in the course performance descriptors. They illustrate the quality of work typically produced by students who receive each grade.

Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning is described in detail in the assessment section of each syllabus. It involves using assessment activities or tasks as a regular part of the teaching and learning process to clarify students understanding of concepts, to remedy their misconceptions, and to support their further learning and the development of deeper understanding.

All assessment activities can be used to support learning, and to provide feedback to students that enables them to actively monitor and evaluate their own learning.

General performance descriptors

The general performance descriptors describe performance at each of five grade levels.

A The 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.
B The 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 situations.
C The 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.
D The student has a basic knowledge and understanding of the content and has achieved a limited level of competence in the processes and skills.
E The 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.


Areas for assessment

The areas for assessment provide a framework for structuring an assessment program, and may be used for reporting student achievement. They are derived from the course objectives, and are linked to the course outcomes. They can be used as organisers for assessment of student achievement.

Good assessment practice involves designing quality assessment activities that enable students to demonstrate their achievements. Teachers can use the areas for assessment when designing an assessment activity, to ensure it is assessing performance in relation to a grouping of outcomes.

In designing the assessment schedule for a course, teachers may find it useful to map each planned assessment activity to one or more of the areas for assessment. This allows teachers to ensure that assessment can occur across the year in a manageable way. The table below gives an example of how this planning could be done.

Sample Assessment Activities (with weightings)
Sample
Areas for Assessment
Document
Study
10%
Oral
Report
20%
Year 10
Common Test
35%
Major
Project
35%
Knowledge and
Understanding
Investigating and
Researching
Communicating
Interpreting data
Problem-solving
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