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Awarding grades

A standards-referenced approach is used to report student achievement in NSW. Achievement standards are based on what students are expected to learn and how well they have achieved.

The NSW syllabuses state what students at each stage are expected to learn. A to E grade scales describe how well students have achieved. Teachers make professional on-balance judgements to decide which grade description best matches the standards their students have achieved.

Students with special education needs may require adjustments to assessment activities to enable access to the task and equitable opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do.

There are many suitable methods that schools may consider appropriate in supporting teacher judgements about student achievement. Methods 1 and 2 for awarding grades provide examples of two possible approaches.

Moderating grades

Teachers follow a process of ‘moderation’ to ensure that grades awarded are consistent with published standards. This means that the grade a student receives in one school can be compared to the same grade anywhere in NSW.

Teachers moderate their judgements by comparing work samples for their students with samples aligned to grades A to E. 

Using student work samples

Schools can use student work samples to strengthen their understanding of standards.

We provide work samples aligned to A to E grades for a selection of courses to assist teachers in understanding state-wide standards.

Schools can use these published work samples to moderate the grades they award to students by comparing the standards of work published with those produced by their students in the same or similar courses.

Developing a consistent understanding of standards

Schools can also use samples of work from their own students for professional development with their staff and/or teachers from other schools. These work samples can provide the basis for professional discussions about standards and ensure there are consistent expectations about student achievement.

Reviewing and improving assessment activities

Where similar activities are used each year, referring to student work from previous years may assist teachers to clarify what is expected prior to the marking or grading of student work. Reviewing the work samples may also provide useful information about the activity itself that could lead to enhancements being made.

The consistency of teacher judgement professional learning support package provides resources to assist schools in moderating their judgements about grades. Student work samples aligned to grades are available in the Resources section of the website.