A message from the High School Deputies

EXAMS CANCELLED!

How’s that for a headline?

Well, like most headlines, it’s really only about one side of the side of the story. It’s often better to read the entire article before forming an opinion, in this case I’m not saying all exams have been cancelled, just some of them.

You may or (more likely) may not recall that last term I wrote about changes to the HSC, explaining that the NSW Education Standards Authority are looking to introduce greater balance into their HSC assessment procedures. In particular, they are encouraging schools to use formative assessment practices to replace some traditional summative assessments, arguing that the best tasks don’t just rank a student’s performance, they also help a student to learn. Accordingly, NESA’s rules for school-based assessment tasks in Years 11-12 now allow just one examination-style task to be conducted each year.

Yes, you read that right – Half Yearly Examinations have effectively been banned in Years 11-12!

After weighing up the arguments for and against these changes, we at William Carey have decided it will be better for all year groups to adopt a similar approach across the High School. From 2019, therefore, we will replace some of our traditional examination-style assessment tasks with formative tasks and, specifically, we will remove the Half Yearly Examination period from the calendar for all year groups from Year 7 to Year 12.

A few courses, notably Mathematics, will continue to run two examination-style tasks in Years 7-10 (but not in Years 11-12) as we believe this will be the best strategy to assess our students’ progress and to prepare them for the future. Note, however, that any midyear examination tasks will be spaced apart on the assessment schedule, rather than grouped into a single exam week.

I hope you can see that these changes are not intended to “soften” the rigour of our teaching programs at William Carey Christian School, but rather it’s hoped that they will shift the focus away from merely assessing what students learned in the past towards helping them to learn even more in future.

Please email me if you’d like to contribute your own thoughts about assessment here at William Carey.

In His service,

Michael Nightingale
Director of Teaching and Learning
(On behalf of the High School Deputies)