Assessment and reporting
Students with special education needs work towards syllabus outcomes identified through the collaborative curriculum planning process. They should be given a range of opportunities to demonstrate achievement of these outcomes.
Schools should ensure that assessment activities from Kindergarten to Year 12 are accessible to students with special education needs. This is a requirement under the Disability Standards for Education 2005. Some students with special education needs need adjustments to assessment activities to enable access to the task. They also need an equitable opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do. In some cases alternative assessment strategies may be needed.
Decisions are made at school level to offer adjustments to students with special education needs in school-based assessment tasks including examinations. Adjustments can be made to assessment tasks from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Adjustments enable a student with special education needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. They are intended to provide equitable opportunities for students with special education needs rather than confer an advantage. The types of adjustments made will vary according to the needs of the individual student.
Some students may require:
- adjustments to the assessment process, eg:
- extra time in an examination
- more time to complete a take-home task, including checkpoints for progress
- scaffolded instructions
- the use of a reader and/or scribe or specific technology
- additional guidance provided, eg providing specific websites to research
- accessibility, eg providing a reading stimulus at the appropriate reading level for the student
- highlighted key words and phrases
- more information, eg providing a wordbank, a labelled diagram or a visual cue
- adjustments to the assessment activities, eg:
- questions rephrased
- simplified language
- alternative formats for questions
- visual task instead of a reading task
- alternative formats for responses, eg:
- written point form or notes instead of an extended response
- scaffolded structured responses for an extended response
- responses to short objective questions to build towards an extended response
- oral responses instead of written responses
- matrix or labelled diagram instead of a written response
- multimedia presentations instead of an oral response.
Adjustments include practical arrangements to help students with special education needs access HSC examinations. These practical arrangements are known as disability provisions. To access adjustments for the HSC examinations, an application for Disability Provisions must be submitted to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). Schools are responsible for any decisions about adjustments to course work and formal school-based assessment tasks throughout Years 11 and 12. There is no guarantee that the same Disability Provisions will be granted as those given at school for course work and assessment tasks.
Students with special education needs can also access disability adjustments for the NAPLAN tests.
Illustrations of adjustments to assessment experiences can be found with the syllabuses.
Reporting provides feedback to students, parents and other teachers about student progress. In a standards-referenced framework, teachers make professional judgements about student achievement. This is done at key points in the learning cycle.
The A–E grading scale or equivalent provides a common language for reporting. Teachers use the grading scale to report student levels of achievement. This applies to Stages 1 to 5 and the Preliminary year. The Common Grade Scale (A–E) or equivalent is not required to be used for students in Year 12. Students who are eligible for the Higher School Certificate award, receive an assessment mark for each course undertaken.
Where adjustments are made to assessment activities, this should not restrict the student’s access to the full range of grades or marks.
For some students with special education needs, teachers may need to consider the most appropriate method of reporting student achievement. To do so they should consult with their school and sector. This may include reporting against outcomes identified through the collaborative curriculum planning process, particularly for K–10 students working towards selected syllabus outcomes, or outcomes from a prior stage.
Schools do not need to use the Common Grade Scale (A–E) or equivalent for students undertaking Life Skills courses.