April lead stories


VCE Assessor Insights: Rewarding work and long-term gains

The VCAA is currently taking applications for 2017 VCE Assessors and recently spoke with two experienced assessors to provide insight into the benefits and challenges of the role.

Jo Flack, a teacher for forty years and an assessor for nearly twenty, and Claire Bloom, an assessor for more than ten, agree that professional development and broader opportunities in the education sector are just some of the important benefits for teachers signing up as VCE Assessors.

Jo teaches Media at Swinburne Secondary College and believes having assessor experience sharpens a teacher’s ability to analyse exam questions, making it easier for them to construct their own practice VCE essay questions.

She says assessing has highlighted to her the importance of time management which she passes on to her students as she believes success in VCE exams is ‘50% knowledge and 50% being able to write it down in the time available and the form required’.

Claire, a teacher at Warrandyte Secondary College, describes her role as an assessor as ‘busy, illuminating and confidence-building’. She says networking with other assessors has additional advantages such as the sharing of resources and classroom strategies.

To become an assessor, teachers need experience in VCE Units 3 and 4 in the study. They must also attend a full day of training where a broad range of student responses are explored to establish clear and consistent marking guidelines for all assessors.

Both assessors agree that technology has lightened the workload.

Claire remembers the pressure of tight deadlines when she’d have to physically meet her paired assessor to ‘swap bags’ of CD-Roms containing exam papers to be marked.

‘Thankfully this burden has been removed as the process has gone digital,’ she says. ‘The most difficult thing for me now is that school-based report writing coincides with exam marking so you have to be extremely well organised to ensure everything is done on time.’

Claire believes good time management skills, an excellent understanding of the VCE study and the willingness to put aside personal interpretations of questions and go with the group consensus and Chief Assessor’s decisions on acceptable marking responses are essential.

Teachers have many motivations for becoming as assessor. Jo was initially inspired to ‘give back’ and because she’d found that ‘how one thinks an average student will respond and how they do respond’ were often different.

‘I’d send my students into the exam thinking they’d do really well and finding their results were not what I imagined,’ she says.

There are other less obvious advantages to assessing, says Jo.

‘Not only is it great PD and a great way to advance your career but the extra money comes in just before Christmas.’

All teachers with experience teaching VCE Units 3 and 4 are encouraged to apply to become a VCE assessor in 2017. More information is available on the VCAA website and SSMS. For further details about assessor training dates in 2017, see the article in the VCE Assessment section of this Bulletin.

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Reappointment of VCAA Chair

VCAA Chairperson Chris Wardlaw

It is with great pleasure we announce that the Governor in Council has appointed Chris Wardlaw as VCAA Chairperson for a second term.

Chris Wardlaw is an extremely active Chairperson, representing the VCAA on a number of Board Committees, presenting at the Season of Excellence events and numerous awards nights. He also consults with the Minister and Secretary of Education on a regular basis and is committed to making the VCAA a global leader in curriculum, assessment and reporting.

Chris held Deputy Secretary positions in education in Hong Kong (2002–08) and Victoria (2009–13) before retiring. In the Hong Kong Government, he was responsible for curriculum, assessment and quality assurance for pre-primary, basic education and senior secondary education, and in Victoria, for strategy and review across the portfolio.

Before his time in Hong Kong, Chris had a long career in Victorian education during which he took a leading role in major reforms supporting school-level decision-making and evaluation and review. Chris taught economics and history at university and secondary levels before moving into educational administration.

Chris was awarded the Public Service Medal in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. He was made a Fellow of Monash University in 2013.

He is currently a Director of the Board of Athletics Australia and Deputy Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

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