Blog

Welcome to our blog, 'A word from...' where we share posts from staff at the Authority. 'A word from...' will cover topics relating to the work of the Authority, key events and activities, issues and matters relating to curriculum, assessment and standards for students in Western Australia from Kindergarten through to Year 12.

Keep up to date with the blog through our RSS feed http://www.scsa.wa.edu.au/scsa-rss-feed/_recache.

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Year 12 enrolments – Time to decide

Mar 2017

The time is fast approaching for Year 12 students to decide whether or not to change course enrolment. Changing your enrolments is a big decision and it should not be made lightly. You should discuss your options with your parents/guardians as well as your teachers, Year Coordinator or Careers Counsellor before you make a final decision.

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The time is fast approaching for Year 12 students to decide whether or not to change course enrolment. Changing your enrolments is a big decision and it should not be made lightly. You should discuss your options with your parents/guardians as well as your teachers, Year Coordinator or Careers Counsellor before you make a final decision.

Schools may have earlier deadlines in order to manage the administrative work that goes with changes to enrolments, but the last date for the Authority to be notified of changes to Year 12 enrolments is Wednesday, 5 April. After then, you will only be able to withdraw from your courses.

Withdrawing from courses means there will be no listing of your enrolment in these courses for this year on your Western Australian Statement of Student Achievement (WASSA). The dates for withdrawing are:

  • Friday, 28 July for Year 12 ATAR courses with practical examinations component
  • Friday, 25 August for all other Year 12 courses – including Year 12 ATAR courses without a practical examination component, General, Foundation and Preliminary courses.

If you remain enrolled in a course after these dates for withdrawal, you are expected to complete the assessment requirements of the course. The results you achieve for ATAR (see note about ATAR courses below), General, Foundation and Preliminary courses will be listed on your WASSA.

You will not be able to pick up new courses until a new school year begins. This means, if you don’t have enough units from the courses you complete this year, you will need to continue your studies next year.

ATAR students

If you are enrolled in an ATAR Year 12 course, and you do not withdraw from that course, you are required to sit the ATAR examination in that course.

If you do not sit an ATAR course examination and do not have an approved sickness/misadventure application for that course, then the grades for the pair of units completed in that year will not contribute to the calculation of the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

If we unpack this further, it means that the grades for the ATAR Year 12 course will not contribute to the following WACE requirements:

  • completion of a minimum of 20 units, including 10 Year 12 units
  • completion of at least one pair of Year 12 units from an English course (if the ATAR Year 12 course was either English, Literature or English as an Additional Language or Dialect)
  • completion of one pair of Year 12 units from List A (arts/languages/social sciences) or List B (mathematics/science/technology)
  • achievement of at least 14 C grades or higher, including at least six C grades in Year 12 units
  • completion of at least four Year 12 ATAR courses.

Withdrawing from units may mean you don’t complete enough units this year and may not meet the requirements to achieve a WACE.

Special note about Year 12 ATAR courses

If you do not sit an ATAR course examination, you will not have a course mark or grade recorded on your WASSA, and you will not receive an ATAR course report for that course. This means there will be no record at the Authority of you having studied this course.

WACE requirements

You are able to find details relating to the WACE requirements in the Year 12 Information Handbook 2017, available on the Authority website at http://www.scsa.wa.edu.au/publications/year-12-information.

Please remember the decisions you make now may affect your future study plans. Think carefully.

All the best with your studies.

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Welcome back to a new school year

Feb 2017

The Authority’s vision statement is ‘to provide quality curriculum, assessment and reporting of standards of achievement of all students studying the Western Australian curriculum, so that they become confident, creative learners and active, informed citizens who contribute positively to society.’ In 2017 we will be continuing to work with schools and teachers to act on and realise this vision.

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The Authority’s vision statement is ‘to provide quality curriculum, assessment and reporting of standards of achievement of all students studying the Western Australian curriculum, so that they become confident, creative learners and active, informed citizens who contribute positively to society.’ In 2017 we will be continuing to work with schools and teachers to act on and realise this vision.

Our emphasis in 2017

Earlier this week the Chair of the Board and I wrote to school principals about the areas the Authority will be focusing on this year for Pre-primary to Year 12 curriculum, assessment and reporting.

Our core focus is on supporting schools in their implementation of the Western Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline (the Outline – Pre-primary to Year 10) and the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE – Year 11 and 12).

Schools and their teachers have done a fantastic job implementing the Outline –Pre-primary to Year 10.  We thank you all for your efforts so far and look forward to building on the progress made in recent years.

The Outline

The P–10 curriculum for English, Mathematics and Science has already been implemented and these learning areas will be joined in 2017 by Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) and Health and Physical Education (HPE). The curriculum for HASS and HPE will be implemented with reporting to parents on student achievement by the end of Semester 1 this year.

The remaining learning areas of Technologies, The Arts and Languages are expected to be in place in 2018, with reporting to parents on student achievement by the end of Semester 1 next year in Technologies and the Arts and in Year 3 Languages.

The Authority is continuing to work with schools and teachers to develop a range of materials that support the delivery of the curriculum and teacher judgements.

WACE

Can I particularly thank all teachers for the phenomenal effort that has been put into all of the WACE reforms.  Developing new programs for ATAR, General, Foundation and Preliminary courses, implementing the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA) and managing the Externally Set Tasks (ESTs) were all responsibilities that teachers and schools have embraced.   At the end of 2016, 21 473 students received a WACE and 25 338 students received the Western Australian Statement of Student Achievement (WASSA).

2017 will be a year of consolidation with a focus on gaining insights into the standards particularly in the General and Foundation courses. Plans are underway to explore ways of working with teachers delivering Preliminary courses to build a common understanding of Unit Completion.

Parent website

In addition to our work with teachers and schools, we will soon be launching a website for parents. The website will support parents and carers of students from Kindergarten through to Year 12 with information about curriculum, assessment and reporting.

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Practical exams 2016

Sep 2016

There are a number of ATAR courses that have a practical component as part of the examination. This practical might be a performance, oral, portfolio or production. The portfolios and productions were due in on Wednesday 21 September, the performance and oral components begin on Saturday 24 September.

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Practical exams 2016

There are a number of ATAR courses that have a practical component as part of the examination. This practical might be a performance, oral, portfolio or production. The portfolios and productions were due in on Wednesday 21 September, the performance and oral components begin on Saturday 24 September.

Portfolio and production submissions

Teachers and schools coordinate the delivery of portfolio and production submissions. In 2016, the Authority has taken delivery of:

  • Design portfolio submissions
  • Materials Design and Technology folio submissions
  • Media Production and Analysis practical submissions
  • Music portfolios
  • Visual Arts production examination submissions.

Students enrolled in French, German and Italian Background Languages have sent through their personal investigation interview sheets.

Marking of the portfolio and production submissions is underway and will be completed by 12 October.

Performance and oral examinations

The performance and oral examinations begin with Music on Saturday 24 September. Dance and Physical Education Studies begin on Sunday 25 September and Drama and English as an Additional Language/Dialect (overseas) on Monday 26 September. Aviation begins on 29 September and the Languages orals begin on 15 October.

These performance and oral examinations run over the school holidays and include weekends and public holidays. The practical examinations timetable is available on the examination timetable page of our website.

Personalised examination timetable

All students enrolled in a practical examination have a Personalised practical examination timetable. This can be downloaded by your school or students can download a copy from the student portal at https://www.wace.wa.edu.au

The Personalised practical examination timetable has information about the date, venue time and location of the examination. Students must sign their Personalised practical examination timetable and take it to each practical examination they are completing.

Remember that a practical examination cannot be rescheduled.

Things to remember

There are rules around what students need to do when they are participating in a practical or oral examination. One of these is ensuring anonymity. Students cannot wear or carry anything that identifies them, their school or their achievement. For example, if you are on a state training squad for your sport, you wouldn’t wear the team tracksuit to a Physical Education Studies practical. Likewise, if you are attending a Music practical, you wouldn’t wear your school uniform.

It is important to bring the equipment you need. Information about required equipment is included on the cover page for each examination under the heading ‘To be provided by the candidate’. The examination cover pages are on the course pages under the Syllabuses and Support Materials tab of http://wace1516.scsa.wa.edu.au/

Year 12 Information Handbook

Students completing performance and oral examinations may find it useful to check the Year 12 Information Handbook for general information about examinations. It is available on the Year 12 information page of our website.

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2016 School Curriculum and Standards Authority VET Awards

Aug 2016

Advice for Year 12 students

Are you in Year 12, completing a Certificate II or higher qualification and getting hands on experience in an industry related workplace?

If the answer is yes then you may be eligible to nominate for the 2016 VET Awards.  Speak to your school’s VET coordinator or Workplace Learning coordinator about how to apply.

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Advice for Year 12 students

Vet Awards.

Are you in Year 12, completing a Certificate II or higher qualification and getting hands on experience in an industry related workplace?

If the answer is yes then you may be eligible to nominate for the 2016 VET Awards.  Speak to your school’s VET coordinator or Workplace Learning coordinator about how to apply.

Additional info

As part of the nomination process you will need to provide a student statement plus a statement from your workplace representative and the VET coordinator so it's a good idea to start early before the actual online nomination.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel which consists of two school representatives and one industry representative. If successful at interview you may be awarded a VET Exhibition (for the top student in an industry area) and/or a Certificate of Excellence (for outstanding achievement in VET).

Did you know?

The Beazley Medal: VET award is one of two of the highest award for Year 12 students. To be shortlisted for a Beazley Medal: VET award in 2016 you will need to be a VET Exhibition recipient.

Download the 2016 VET Awards information sheet and speak to your school for more information.

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Putting pen to paper – improving handwriting

Jul 2016

A word from Peter Williams, Communications

When you’re writing under pressure, like in a test or an exam, it’s easy to think the most important thing is to get the information down. There’s some truth in that. Answering the question is why you’re sitting at that desk.

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A word from Peter Williams, Communications

A photo of a notebook with someones hand writing in it.

When you’re writing under pressure, like in a test or an exam, it’s easy to think the most important thing is to get the information down. There’s some truth in that. Answering the question is why you’re sitting at that desk.

Remember, though, the quality of your handwriting matters. The person marking your paper needs to be carried along with your writing – seeing all of your ideas so you have every chance to get high marks. Right? None of this can happen if your writing is illegible.

Legible writing comes down to letter formation. Perhaps you remember learning to write and practising your letters on those pale blue lines. Upstrokes, downstrokes, looping the tail of a 'g' –arms and dots. Perhaps you liked to invent your own letter shapes. Or perhaps you don’t do that much hand writing now – unless you have to, because a keyboard or smart phone is easier.

Do you even think about your letters as you write? If, in your heart of hearts, you know your handwriting could do with some improvement, read on!

Analysing your writing can help

Poor hand writing can mean we get less marks than we should. Letters or words that are not written clearly can look like mistakes. Try analysing your writing and see what you can improve. Copy three or four sentences from this blog and answer these questions about what you wrote:

  1. Do you write with curves and loops? Or do you write straight?
  2. Do your letters run together? Are they recognisable? Do you dot the 'i's and cross the 't's?
  3. Does your writing slant, significantly, to one side? Or do you write perpendicular to the lines? Does the angle of words change as you write?
  4. Does your writing overlap the lines?
  5. Is your writing cramped? (Can you write a single 'o' in the space between each word?) Cramped words can be hard to read.
  6. Do you use all (or very little) of the space in the lines to write?
  7. Are the lines in your letters even and balanced or uneven and bumpy?

Do you ever find it hard to read your own writing? If so, consider changing one or more of these seven areas to improve your writing’s legibility. Still not convinced? Did you know that some of our chief examiners have reported that poor handwriting interferes with student performance?

You are your first reader!

Whether you’re revising your notes or proofing an exam essay, you are your first reader. This means you must read your own work to ensure it’s as easy to read as possible. When you're checking for clarity of meaning and accuracy you don't need the distraction of trying to decipher your own scrawl.

Your next reader is the person marking your work. Do you think of them as you write? Chances are, if you’re not thinking about who you’re writing for, they won’t engage with them as well as you could. Your handwriting is your written voice – your message to your audience. Ignore being clear at your peril!

Writing (itself) is an art

For some people, the 'way of writing', also known as calligraphy, is an art to be developed. Calligraphy requires practice, care, a dexterous hand and an eye for the visual balance of words or characters and ink on paper. We’re not suggesting you aim for the detail and flourishes of calligraphy but please consider investing some time in writing practice.

As a busy student you might think you don’t have time for the ‘luxury’ of practising writing. But if you’ve ever tried to ride a skateboard, play a guitar or swing a golf club, you know the importance of technique. In the same way, your pen control has a big impact on your writing. Here are some suggestions to improve your pen handling skills:

  • Write some of your study notes by hand. Use this as an opportunity to work on letter formation and legibility. The aim is to write neatly, but freely. This takes practice.
  • Mark your own ‘neatness’ in your practice essays. Don’t just time yourself getting ideas on the page. Time yourself getting ideas on the page legibly.
  • Look at your handwriting analysis (using the seven steps above) and target one or more areas that need attention. Why not work some exercises (to improve your spacing, alignment, balance or letter shapes) into your routine as a signal to yourself that you’re starting (or finishing) a study session?
  • Find some ‘no pressure’ writing opportunities – a birthday card, a party invitation, a note to a friend, or a postcard.

How many skills that involve hand and eye coordination would you expect to master, if you rarely practise them? Make time to improve your writing. It will be a sound investment.

Other strategies

Choose your tools wisely. A pen that sits well in your hand and writes smoothly as you move it across the page is important. If you have to use a pencil, make sure it’s sharp. Try your pen (or pencil) before you buy it, to find one that works well for you.

Your sitting posture matters too. Yes, it’s true! If you sit with your back supported, your body angled forward, and your feet on the ground, it will help your writing; especially if you’re going to be putting pen to paper for an extended period of time. Some people write most neatly when they can move their shoulders and forearms freely. Posture is important!

Is your head supported? Your head should be supported by your neck, not by your spare hand. If your spine is not aligned properly and you’re leaning to rest your head on your hand, your head is not properly supported. In fact, your ‘spare hand’ is not really spare at all. It should be holding the page steady and moving it as you work your way along it.

Get a grip! In the mix with good posture is good grip (or grasp). The way you hold your pen affects your posture. If your grip is too tight, you become tense. Remember to keep your wrist and arm loose. Ideally, the movement of the pen across the page should be fluid and relaxed. Be aware of how you hold your pen.

Keywords: handwriting, exams, tests

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OLNA results are out

May 2016

A word from Allan Blagaich, CEO

A photo of children sitting in a classroom taken from the back of the classroom

Hi folks.

Our role as educators is to support students to develop the skills for life at and beyond school. After 13 years of schooling every student should be able to leave school with at least a minimum level of literacy and numeracy that will ensure they can meet the demands of everyday life and work.

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A word from Allan Blagaich, CEO

A photo of children sitting in a classroom taken from the back of the classroom

Hi folks.

Our role as educators is to support students to develop the skills for life at and beyond school. After 13 years of schooling every student should be able to leave school with at least a minimum level of literacy and numeracy that will ensure they can meet the demands of everyday life and work.

Young people leaving school need to be able to complete tasks such as writing a job application and balancing the family budget. Beyond that, they need to be able to engage in the ongoing learning that comes with further training and education. The community – including universities, training organisations, employers and industry – has been explicit that a clear, minimum standard is essential as a starting point for students moving into life beyond school.

Results released to schools

The results for the March round of the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA) were recently released to schools. The changes to the WACE requirements that come into play this year mean there are going to be some students who are concerned about their OLNA results.

Diagnostic reports

In response to feedback from schools, the results we have released include information to help schools target support for students. This diagnostic information will be very helpful to schools because it includes details about individual student performance for all students that have not yet demonstrated the standard.

These Category 1 and 2 reports detail the skills and understandings students found the most challenging in the assessment. Schools will be able to use this information along with school-based assessments and observations when identifying areas requiring support and planning intervention strategies for individual students prior to the September round of assessments.

The WACE and the WASSA

For the WACE to be valued and respected it must involve a rigorous and acceptable standard. To achieve a WACE, students need to meet all of the requirements and demonstrating the literacy and numeracy standard is just one of these. It is important that everyone understands that there is no exemption or exclusion from demonstrating the standard. All the requirements need to be met in order to achieve the WACE. However it is important that students understand that they are able to accumulate results for a WACE over a lifetime.

A student’s results and achievements can be ‘banked’ indefinitely. There will be opportunities for students to continue to accumulate results after leaving school until they meet the requirements of the WACE. This includes demonstrating the literacy and numeracy standard.

I recognise that many students, for a variety of reasons, may not be able to demonstrate the minimum standards of literacy and numeracy by the end of Year 12. For that reason, the Board of the Authority announced that all students in Western Australia will receive a Western Australian Statement of Student Achievement (WASSA). This document will provide a record of all that a student has achieved over the senior secondary years.

The WASSA will be used by TAFE at the point of entry to look at what a student has achieved and will also be used by employers to determine achievement in courses applicable to their industry. In the instance where students have not met one or more of the elements of the OLNA, I understand that TAFE will be providing additional literacy and numeracy programs which can be taken in conjunction with Certificate courses. The final point I’d like to make is that there are many requirements to be met to achieve a WACE. Meeting the literacy and numeracy standard is just one of them.

Do you need more information?

There is information on our website. You’ll find it in the OLNA section under the Assessment tab of our Years 11 and 12 website at http://senior-secondary.scsa.wa.edu.au/assessment/olna.

Keywords: OLNA, WACE, WASSA

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Externally set tasks

May 2016

A word from Kerry Cribb, Manager, Examination Development

Young girl at a desk giving a thumbs up

If you are in Year 12, or have a child in Year 12, you may have heard about externally set tasks, which are also known as ESTs.

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A word from Kerry Cribb, Manager, Examination Development

Young girl at a desk giving a thumbs up

If you are in Year 12, or have a child in Year 12, you may have heard about externally set tasks, which are also known as ESTs.

This new moderation process is part of the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) reforms. Starting in 2016, all students enrolled in a General Year 12 course and/or a Foundation Year 12 course are required to complete the EST for that course.

What is an EST?

Each EST is 50 minute written assessment which students complete under standard test conditions. It contributes 15% to the student’s school mark for the pair of units.

Why do we need ESTs?

The EST provides a common reference point for student assessment in a course. This promotes fair assessment of student achievement. Using a common task and marking key will support shared understandings among teachers and will model best assessment practice.

Teachers will be able to apply the elements of the EST to their development of other assessment tasks and marking keys.

How will the ESTs work?

In Term 3 of the year before an EST is held, the Authority identifies the content to be assessed in the task. Schools are informed of the content in the year before the EST is conducted so the teacher can cover the content at an appropriate time. The Authority then develops the tasks based on Unit 3 content from the course.

In Term 2, the Authority distributes the tasks to schools. The schools then administer the ESTs (in 2016, this is between 16 May and 3 June). Students might complete the ESTs in class, as for other assessment tasks, or as part of their school’s Semester 1 Year 12 examinations timetable.

Teachers mark their students’ work using a marking key provided by the Authority. Schools then send the mark for each student enrolled in Unit 3 and Unit 4 to the Authority.

The Authority will select a random sample of students from each school for each course. The school will scan the EST scripts for these students and upload the scripts to the Authority.

The Authority will independently mark the selected scripts and provide the school with feedback. Teachers will then review the marks for the sample of students and, where appropriate, adjust their marking practices.

What about students with disability?

As with other timed assessments, there is opportunity for students with disability to apply for appropriate adjustments. The Guidelines for disability adjustments for timed assessments are available on our Years 11 and 12 website at http://senior-secondary.scsa.wa.edu.au/ under the assessment tab.

Key dates 2016

6 May – printed copies of the ESTs are delivered to schools

16 May – the EST marking keys and marks collection forms for General and Foundation Year 12 courses made available to schools

16 May to 3 June – schools administer ESTs for each General and Foundation Year 12 course being delivered

7 June – schools receive a SIRS report listing the students whose EST script is required to be externally marked (schools need to scan and upload the scripts)

10 June – marks for each student for ESTs to be uploaded to the Authority

17 June – the scanned EST scripts of Authority‐identified students for courses to be externally marked to be uploaded to the Authority

4 to 15 July – Independent marking of ESTs for identified students

12 August – the EST feedback report for each courses will be available to schools.

16 September – The Unit 3 content on which the EST for each General and Foundation course will be based in 2017 is made available to schools

Contact and follow up

For more information, see the Externally Set Tasks Handbook, available on our website http://senior-secondary.scsa.wa.edu.au/assessment/externally-set-tasks.

If you have a query about the EST process, email info@scsa.wa.edu.au.

Keywords: Year 12, General, Foundation

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NAPLAN 2016

May 2016

A word from Marilyn McKee, Manager, K-10 Testing

A photo of a child writing with a pen

This week, from Tuesday 10 May to Thursday 12 May, students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 from across Australia will sit the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests.

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A word from Marilyn McKee, Manager, K-10 Testing

A photo of a child writing with a pen

This week, from Tuesday 10 May to Thursday 12 May, students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 from across Australia will sit the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests.

If you have a child who is about to sit the NAPLAN you might be concerned about test-related stress and the expectations of performance.

I want to take this opportunity to run through why the NAPLAN is a useful tool and nothing to fear.

Based on curriculum

First of all, the NAPLAN tests are designed to sit within a student’s assessment program. They build on the skills and understandings students are expected to be assessed on throughout the year.

The content of each test is informed by the Australian Curriculum (English and Mathematics). In Western Australia this means that students are being tested on skills developed over time through content from the Western Australian curriculum syllabuses for English and Mathematics. These syllabuses are available on our website at http://k10outline.scsa.wa.edu.au/home/p-10-curriculum/curriculum-browser.

When students are engaging with the curriculum they are developing skills and understandings that they can draw. Teaching the curriculum equips students to complete the tests.

A point-in-time snapshot

The assessments have always been intended as what is known as a point-in-time snapshot. This means they are not expected to give a full picture of a student’s knowledge and abilities. What they provide information of a student’s performance on one day.

The information this snapshot provides is useful to teachers and schools because it provides a strong comparison of their students in relation to other students of the same year group at that same time.

This helps schools put support in place for students. Information from the tests identifies strengths as well as weaknesses. If your child has specific gaps in their knowledge and understandings, the NAPLAN results can help pinpoint these. Your child’s results can be a useful starting point for conversations with classroom teachers and school staff.

Individuals and groups

The point-in-time information is enhanced by being in the context of the larger student population. It can also confirm ongoing student performance. In situations where support, and possibly intervention, is needed, information from the tests can confirm starting points which are likely to have been emerging through a student’s classroom performance.

As students move through school, their performance on tests provides a measurable map of their progress in the context of their own past performances. The ongoing performances of their year group is also indicated. This provides a starting point for conversations with a student’s teacher and school.

Skills for life

The literacy and numeracy skills students need for success at school and participation in the world beyond school develop over time. The NAPLAN tests provide information about how students are going at developing these core skills.

The skills and understandings students demonstrate in the literacy assessment include spelling, grammar and punctuation, developing and organising ideas and showing understanding of texts.

The numeracy assessment involves problems relating to content strands from the mathematics syllabus. In Years 7 and 9, the numeracy assessment involves two parts; one where a calculator is allowed and one where a calculator cannot be used.

Putting fears to rest

As with any test or assessment of a student’s performance, the expectation is that the student performs to the best of their ability on the day.

The NAPLAN tests are not intended to put students under additional pressure. They are an assessment like any other. The difference is the common questions and timing of the tests to coincide on the same day.

The tests reflect the content for the year level. Students are showing what they know in the tests. This is what they are asked to do in assessment activities – including projects, presentations and tests – on any other school day.

NAPLAN, the OLNA and the WACE

In closing, I want to address questions that have arisen about NAPLAN, the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA) and the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

From 2016, students need to demonstrate a literacy and numeracy standard to achieve a WACE. The standard is a description of what is expected of Year 12 students. Students demonstrate the standard through the OLNA.

Some students will be able to demonstrate the standard before Year 12 but some will not do this until they are in Year 12. Also, there are provisions for students to continue to work towards demonstrating the standard after Year 12. To ensure students have opportunities to demonstrate the literacy and numeracy standard, they first attempt the OLNA in Year 10. .

There are some students who will not need to sit the OLNA because they will have prequalified as demonstrating the standard by achieving a Band 8 in the Year 9 NAPLAN.

Some Year 9s are concerned they won’t demonstrate the literacy and numeracy standard required for Year 12. The important thing to remember is that they do not need to demonstrate the standard until they are in Year 12. The Year 9 NAPLAN is not a part of the WACE. It is just that some students demonstrate the standard early and there is no need for them to demonstrate it again in another test.

More information

See the information for parents in the NAPLAN section under the Assessing tab of our Kindergarten to Year 10 website http://k10outline.scsa.wa.edu.au/home/assessment/testing/naplan.

Keywords: NAPLAN

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Year 11 students: Are you considering transferring out of units?

Apr 2016

A word from Russell Dyer, Director - Standards and Certification

A photo of a child's feet balancing on a log

Now that you have completed one term as a Year 11 student you might be thinking about the appropriateness of the course you have chosen. Perhaps you have discovered that certain subjects don’t interest you or the level of the course is too hard or too easy. You might also have decided what you
want to do when you leave school and the course you are currently studying doesn’t suit your goals.

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A word from Russell Dyer, Director - Standards and Certification

A photo of a child's feet balancing on a log

Now that you have completed one term as a Year 11 student you might be thinking about the appropriateness of the course you have chosen. Perhaps you have discovered that certain subjects don’t interest you or the level of the course is too hard or too easy. You might also have decided what you want to do when you leave school and the course you are currently studying doesn’t suit your goals.

It is coming up to the time when you need to make a decision about your studies. Transferring out of units that do not suit your interests or abilities might be worth considering. It is a big decision so you shouldn’t make it lightly and be prepared to stick with the decision.

Considerations

If you have any concerns about your unit selection then you should discuss your concerns with your parents as well as your teachers, Year Coordinator or Careers Counsellor. You need to consider a number of factors if you are thinking of transferring out of a unit and individual cases may have additional factors to consider. Ask yourself the following questions:

Unit completion requirement

Does transferring out of a unit involve transferring into a unit? The minimum twenty unit requirement may be achieved with some unit equivalents but you need to complete a specific number of units. The breadth and depth requirement means you need to study:

  • 10 units or the equivalent at Year 12 level
  • two Year 11 units from an English course and one pair of Year 12 units from an English course, and
  • one pair of units completed in Year 12 from each of List A (arts/languages/social sciences) and List B (mathematics/science/technology).

It is important that you don’t confuse transferring units with dropping units. How will you make up the units you still need to meet the minimum 20 units in the breadth and depth requirement?

List A/B course balance

Will a transfer upset your balance of List A and List B courses in your program of study? If you transfer out of a unit, will you still be in a position in Year 12 to complete a pair of List A units and a pair of List B units? The Authority is clear that the responsibility is on the individual student and the school to make sure a student’s course selections meet the List A/List B requirements.

Pre-requisites for post-school options

Consider your plans for when you leave school.  If you have an idea of the courses or training that you hope to pursue, you should be clear about any pre-requisites required. Do any of the courses you are interested in studying at university or TAFE have pre-requisites? Do the courses you are currently studying meet the pre-requisites?

Playing to your strengths

Will transferring units help you to maximise your potential? Developing your areas of strength may also have a positive impact by allowing you to focus your time and energy to improve your performance in other courses. You are most likely to perform at your best when you are interested and challenged which could also mean continuing on with the course you have already chosen.

Implications

If you transfer out of units, assessment programs will need to be completed; you will need to catch up on any content that you missed prior to transferring. Are you able to balance this with your other courses?

Remember, schools need to make arrangements and decisions relating to students transferring units in line with their assessment policies. There may be timetabling and resourcing issues at your school that mean you can’t transfer in or out of courses.

Key dates
  • 4 March 2016 was the recommended last date for student transfers from single Year 11 units for Semester One
  • 6 May 2016 is the recommended last date for student transfers between pairs of Year 11 units (E-code).
  • 5 August 2016 is the recommended last date for student transfers from single Year 11 units for Semester Two.

Please note that in Year 12 you will be enrolled in pairs of units and cannot transfer from one course to another.

Advice

The WACE Manual 2015–16 [Revised edition] contains information about transferring out of units.  You can access this manual on the Authority’s website at: http://www.scsa.wa.edu.au/publications/wace-manual

Make sure you have discussed any proposed changes with you parents and key staff at your school. Finally, regardless of the units you enrol in and the programs you complete, it is important to always do your best.

Keywords: Courses and units, WACE

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The updated website

Apr 2016

A word from Sarah Clough, Principal Consultant - Online Strategy and Development

An image of a rocket ship launching out of the screen of a laptop.

We’re excited to be launching our new website. It brings together the Authority’s work in a way that will help everyone find the information they need more quickly and easily.

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A word from Sarah Clough, Principal Consultant - Online Strategy and Development

An image of a rocket ship launching out of the screen of a laptop.

We’re excited to be launching our new website. It brings together the Authority’s work in a way that will help everyone find the information they need more quickly and easily.

Thank you to everyone who replied to our survey. Your feedback has been invaluable in determining how to approach updating the website.

Three sites in one

The Authority website carries a lot of information and it divides into three sites. These are the main Authority website, the K–10 website and the Year 11 and 12 website.

We have had these three sites for a while. In the past, users could get to each of the sites from the main Authority home page. This was ok but not ideal. We found that it could be confusing for people to find their way forward and back between the sites.

What we have done with the new site is bring the three sites together. Each site can be reached via a tab at the top of the navigation bar. Jumping from one to the other by way of the tabs means people using the sites will be able to see where they are more easily. The tabs will always be visible, so users will always be able to ‘find their way back’ to any of the sites.

Things in common

Some materials, like the P–12 Activities Schedule and the Circulars relate to all years of schooling. You will find links to these materials are located on each of the sites.

In other cases, information might be of interest to people visiting the K–10 site and the senior secondary site. The OLNA is an example of this. It involves students in Years 10, 11 and 12. This means we have links to OLNA information on both the K–10 site and the senior secondary site.

Each site links to the extranet – the secure area for teachers to access materials and resources.

The main headings

The Authority site (purple) has been streamlined. The focus is on our administration and communications. The top level headings on this site are:

  • About Us
  • Publications
  • Policy (coming soon)
  • SIRS information
  • Events
  • Forms.

The K–10 site (blue) has always been quite contained. The main changes on this site are to the navigation. The top level headings on this site are:

  • Principles
  • Teaching
  • Assessing
  • Reporting
  • Resources.

The Years 11 and 12 site (grey) has been developed from the old WACE 15–16 site. It now also includes the information from the Senior Secondary tab from the old Authority main site. The top level headings on this site are:

  • The WACE
  • Syllabus and support materials
  • Assessment
  • Moderation
  • Certification
  • Vocational Education and Training
  • Resources.

All kinds of people

We have a vast number of users. There are around 30 000 teachers in Western Australia and there are over 400 000 students from Kindergarten through to Year 12. The Authority websites provide information to teachers, school leaders, parents and students (particularly students in Years 10–12).

Delivering information to so many users in distinct user groups can be a challenge.

We expect the clearer division into the three sites will be helpful. In addition to the sites we are launching today, we are looking forward to launching a website for parents later this year. The parent site will become the fourth tab at the top of the website.

Teachers, who are registered with TRBWA, are able to access resources in a secure area on our extranet. The extranet has been expanded to include materials for teachers from Pre-primary to Year 10 along with the materials for senior secondary teachers.

We are expanding our social media activities by introducing a new Facebook page that will provide general and administrative updates for teachers and school leaders.

Feedback

We would appreciate your feedback. Please let us know what you think by emailing LMShelp@scsa.wa.edu.au.

Keywords: Website navigation, extranet

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Being a Year 12 in 2016

Mar 2016

A word from Vanessa Peters, Manager - Policy, Planning and Communications

Children on a high flying carousel

If you’re in Year 12 you’ve probably been told more than once that this is an important year for you. There will have been the chats about staying on top of your work, dealing with stress, trying your best. I could go on, but you don’t need me to.

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A word from Vanessa Peters, Manager - Policy, Planning and Communications

Children on a high flying carousel

If you’re in Year 12 you’ve probably been told more than once that this is an important year for you. There will have been the chats about staying on top of your work, dealing with stress, trying your best. I could go on, but you don’t need me to.

You’re living this challenging, exciting time already. Yes, even if the assessments are coming in and you are starting to feel edgy about doing everything you want to do – but my ATAR! ... my portfolio for TAFE … I want my dream job – this is an exciting year. Year 12 can be amazing.

Knowing what you’re working towards and how to get there will help.

The WASSA

Whatever you do and however you go this year, you’re going to finish with a WASSA, properly known as the Western Australian Statement of Student Achievement.

The WASSA lists everything you have done as a senior secondary student.

Achieved any of the WACE requirements? They will be listed. Completed WACE course units? Your school grades, school marks and – if you did ATAR units – your combined scores will be listed. Completed any endorsed programs or gained any VET qualifications? They’ll be there. You’ll find more details on the WACE requirements and certification page of our website.

The WASSA gives the detail of what you have achieved as a senior secondary student. You will be able to use it when applying for jobs, training and further study. It is an official record that you will be asked to provide well into the future.

The WACE

If you meet the requirements of the Western Australian Certificate of Education, you will receive a WACE. The WACE shows you have achieved – or exceeded – the required minimum standards in an educational program that has suitable breadth and depth.

The requirements for the WACE are listed in detail on our website (on the WACE requirements for students completing Year 12 in 2016 and beyond page) and in the Year 12 Information Handbook. In brief, they are:

  • demonstrate a minimum standard of literacy and a minimum standard of numeracy
  • demonstrate breadth and depth of study through the number and level of units studied
  • meet a minimum achievement standard through the number of level of C grades attained.

You should familiarise yourself with the detail of the requirements and know what you are working towards.

The Handbook

What is in the Year 12 Information Handbook? Why do you need to read it?

The Handbook brings together information you need to know. It explains information you need to provide and things you need to do. If you’re sitting ATAR course exams, the Handbook is a starting point. It has information about preparing for the exams but also what you are expected to do during an exam. There is information about school assessments, including the externally set tasks for General and Foundation courses.

It is for Year 12s but information will also be of interest to parents and teachers. The important dates listed in Appendix A are worth noting!

You’ll find the Handbook under the Publications tab on our website.

Social Media

I’m not suggesting you fill your time with social media. That said, the Authority has a Facebook page and Twitter feed for information related to students.

We use social media as a way to extend the reach of what the Authority posts in notices on our website and communicates to schools. You won’t miss out if you don’t follow or like us, but it is a convenient way to access timely information.

Facebook and Twitter are also places where you can ask questions if you need to.

Facebook https://facebook.com/SCSAWA
Twitter https://twitter.com/scsawa

If you need more information

If you need more information, a good place to start is with your teachers and year coordinator at school. Your teacher is the first person to speak with about course content.

If you have a question for the Authority about the WASSA or the WACE, you can ask us on Facebook or Twitter or via email. There are some dedicated email addresses you should know:

General queries info@scsa.wa.edu.au
Enrolment queries enrolments@scsa.wa.edu.au
Examination queries exams@scsa.wa.edu.au

A final note

In closing, I want to emphasise that even with all the work, milestones and challenges of Year 12 try to enjoy the year. Be at peace with the idea that this is your work for now. Work hard but remember to be kind to yourself.

Keywords: WACE, WASSA

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Disability adjustments

Jan 2016

A word from Allan Blagaich, CEO

Hi folks

As the summer holidays draw to a close many teachers and school administrators are already preparing for the school year. I hope that everyone getting ready to return to school has had a good break and is able to enjoy some more of it.

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Hi folks

As the summer holidays draw to a close many teachers and school administrators are already preparing for the school year. I hope that everyone getting ready to return to school has had a good break and is able to enjoy some more of it.

Guidelines for disability adjustments for timed assessments

We released the Authority’s Guidelines for disability adjustments for timed assessments (Guidelines) today. The Guidelines summarise the adjustments that may be appropriate for a particular student in NAPLAN, OLNA, ESTs, school-based timed assessments for courses and ATAR course examinations. The Guidelines bring together the explanation of the adjustments that may be available into one document supports students, their families and schools as they progress through the assessments that are a part of the schooling.

We have developed the Guidelines in response to feedback from teachers, school administrators and parents. I want thank everyone involved in developing the Guidelines and to take a moment to reflect on how they connect with the vision we have for our work at the Authority.

Connecting the Guidelines with our vision

Like most organisations, the Authority has a vision statement that sets out what we want to achieve. Our vision is ‘to provide quality curriculum, assessment and reporting of standards of achievement of all students studying the Western Australian curriculum, so that they become confident, creative learners and active, informed citizens who contribute positively to society’. This statement connects a number of ideals. In particular, it embraces the rights of all students to participate in quality assessment as part of their schooling.

As part of our work towards meeting the needs of all students we embrace the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The Standards require that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made to assist students with disability to participate in education on the same basis as other students. A reasonable adjustment helps students with disability to participate in education while taking into account the student’s learning needs and balancing the interests of all parties affected, including those of the student with the disability, the education provider, staff and other students.

The appropriateness of an adjustment will depend on the nature of both the assessment and the disability. Any consideration of an adjustment for a student needs to begin with consideration of the disability itself. A formal diagnosis is a part of this consideration. In the interests of equity and fairness, the use of an adjustment needs to meet the interests of everyone involved.

What is in the Guidelines?

The Guidelines:

  • set out the types of adjustments that may be made
  • identify the responsibilities of schools, students and parents/carers
  • outline the processes for applying for and/or making adjustments.

Key dates for applying for disability adjustments

  • 18 February – March OLNA round
  • 8 April – NAPLAN
  • 17 May – ATAR course exams
  • 11 August – September OLNA round

Read more

If you require further information, please send us an email to info@scsa.wa.edu.au

You will find the Guidelines on our website.

Keywords: Disability adjustments, timed assessments

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End of Term 4 2015

Dec 2015

A word from Allan Blagaich, CEO

Hi folks.

Here we are at the end of Term 4, 2015. Where has the time gone?

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Hi folks.

Here we are at the end of Term 4, 2015. Where has the time gone?

Thank you and well done

So, the curtain has come down on the school year, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of our work in 2015. It has been a big year for all of us here at the School Curriculum and Standards Authority. Thank you to the hundreds of teachers across the state from all the school sectors and systems who have worked with us in collecting work samples, taking part in pilot groups, developing resources and providing feedback.

In 2015 we have seen the successful implementation of the first courses in the Western Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline. Students from Pre-primary to Year 10 received reports on their achievement in English, Mathematics, Science and History.

Well done to everyone during this first year of implementation. Next year will be an opportunity to consolidate this year’s work and build towards implementation of HASS and Health and Physical Education in 2017.

The wait is nearly over

In just a short while, thousands of students across the state and in our international partner schools are going to receive their final results. These days, hard copies of the results are mailed out but students don’t have to wait for the post to arrive. On the day in question (December 30 this year) a button is pushed and everyone’s results go live online.

Students only get to see their own results. It isn’t like those days where people who matriculated and the results were published in the local paper. There is a secure website for students at https://www.wace.wa.edu.au.

The online release means the wait ends for everyone at the same time. There’s no three day delay for kids living in the country. If you are away on holidays you can check out your results online.

If you’re a student waiting for your results, I know that it can be an anxious time. Remember, though, whatever your results for Year 12, the new year will bring new challenges and new opportunities. I wish you all the best and encourage you to embrace them.

Keywords: WA Curriculum, ATAR, results, WACE

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Welcome back to the final term for 2015

Oct 2015

A word from Allan Blagaich, CEO

Hi folks.

Welcome back to the final term for 2015.

Term 4 brings together all the hard work teachers and students have done over the year. End-of-year reports are being written and judgements made about how far students have progressed.

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A word from Allan Blagaich, CEO

Hi folks.

Welcome back to the final term for 2015.

Term 4 brings together all the hard work teachers and students have done over the year. End-of-year reports are being written and judgements made about how far students have progressed.

Kindergarten to Year 10

This is the first year of reporting against the Western Australian Curriculum Achievement standard for English, Mathematics, Science and History for Pre-primary to Year 10. The Achievement standards come to us from the Australian Curriculum. They are part of the Western Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline. In coming years, the remaining learning areas – of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), Health and Physical Education, Technologies, The Arts and Languages – will be implemented.

We have been working with teachers and staff from the Department of Education, Catholic Education Western Australia and the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia to develop materials for the Outline. The Pre-primary to Year 10 syllabuses were published earlier this year.

Teachers will familiarise themselves with the new Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) and Health and Physical Education syllabuses in 2016. They will start teaching with them in 2017. The new syllabuses for Technologies, The Arts and Languages will be used from 2018.

End of year exams

The WACE practical exams began at the end of Term 3. Thousands of students have submitted portfolios and taken part in oral and performance examinations. In just a couple of weeks even more students will start the written WACE examinations.

The WACE exams are a major undertaking. They are a milestone for many students who have been working hard to reach this point. Teachers, families and friends have been also a part of this journey.

Our thoughts are with everyone involved in the exams – students, teachers, examiners, supervisors, families. We wish you well over the examination period. Remember that balance is important. Students need to sleep, eat sensibly and exercise as well as study in order to be in top form.

Many Year 11s will also be preparing to take their end-of-year exams. We also wish everyone who is a part of these exams the best for a good exam season.

Keywords: Reporting, collaboration, WA Curriculum, WACE

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