Schools may approve special provisions and arrangements for both classroom learning and School-based Assessments to enable students affected by disability, illness, impairment or other circumstances to demonstrate what they know, and to participate in classroom learning. In some cases, alternative assessment strategies may be needed.
Decisions on whether to approve school-based provisions must be made by schools. The VCAA recognises that school personnel, because of their knowledge of individual students and their circumstances, can sensitively vary the school assessment programs and learning activities to accommodate student circumstances.
Schools should consult the VCAA if they are unsure about evidence and/or appropriate arrangements. The VCAA recommends that schools approve arrangements for classroom learning and School-based Assessments that are consistent with the Special Examination Arrangements likely to be approved by the VCAA.
Students who are suffering long-term conditions and have not been granted arrangements by the school for classroom learning and School-based Assessments may not be eligible for similar Special Examination Arrangements for these long-term conditions.
The VCAA requires schools to maintain records of their decisions.
Students may be eligible for Special Provision for classroom learning and School-based Assessment if their ability to demonstrate achievement is adversely affected by:
- an acute or chronic illness
- a long-term impairment or disability
- personal circumstances.
Decisions must be evidence based and made using a range of appropriate sources including professional testing and reports, educational assessments and teacher observations.
There are a number of ways in which schools can make alternative arrangements to assist students with their learning and to enable them to be assessed against the unit outcomes.
Decisions made by the school need to reflect the best interest of the student and should be based on the available medical or other professional advice. Strategies include:
Learning or tasks that have been missed through illness or other serious cause may be rescheduled. If a student has been absent for prolonged periods through illness or other serious cause, they should not be overloaded on their return to school with the classroom learning they have missed and/or both scheduled and rescheduled tasks. Careful consideration needs to be given to the management of the student’s workload.
In some cases the school may decide to allow the student extra time to complete work. Additional time may be given immediately after the specific class, at the end of the school day, or during free time during the day, or the student may take work home to complete. If an assessment task is undertaken outside the usual class time, the student must sign the appropriate VASS Authentication Record form.
The conditions for which an extension of time may be approved should be consistent for all VCE and VCAL units within the school, and given in writing to students. An extension of time may extend from Semester 1 to Semester 2, but not into the next school year. Extensions of time must not exceed the deadlines for the reporting of results to the VCAA.
Students who are granted an extension of time are required to complete the work and undertake the task in the same way as all other students.
When granting extra time to students for specific activities associated with classroom activities or an assessment task held under test conditions, it is important to keep in mind whether an application for Special Examination Arrangements has been approved for a student requesting additional time for one or more of their VCE external assessments.
If a school plans to submit an application for Special Examination Arrangements requesting additional time for a student with a long-term condition, it is important for the school to initially trial this arrangement during classroom activities. At the same time the VCAA strongly recommends schools contact VCAA Special Provision to discuss the student’s history and the appropriateness of this type of provision before an application is submitted, preferably well before they commence their studies at senior secondary level.
Another task of the same type can be set, for example a test on the same topic but with different questions, or an essay on the same issue but with a different contention.
Another task can be chosen from the options specified in a study design. If options are available, the assessment tasks must be of comparable scope and demand. If options are not available, schools may devise a task that is of comparable scope and demand, for example a 1000-word essay may not be replaced with five multiple-choice questions.
Schools may use a single task to allow a student to demonstrate the achievement of more than one of the learning outcomes for a study.
Every effort should be made to ensure that facilities and assistive technology are available to enable students to participate in classroom learning and access all assessment tasks in their study program.
Computers, specialist software, recording devices and other technology can be made available to help students to complete work. If word-processing software is used, a spell-check may be activated as part of its operation. Other specialist equipment that are used in conjunction with computers, are encouraged for students who are vision impaired. Audio equipment may also be used to supply assessment tasks to students who cannot access text (for example, students with vision impairment). If new technology has become available, and the school intends to apply for Special Examination Arrangements, the VCAA should be contacted to ensure that such technology is considered appropriate and suitable for use in VCE external assessments.
Students with a physical disability or other impairment may receive assistance from an aide in both classroom learning and when completing a task in order to demonstrate achievement of a learning outcome. Such assistance may include an aide’s recording or participating on behalf of the student in a laboratory or field activity or physical activities. Students may also use a scribe, a clarifier, assistive technology or other arrangements to complete work or tasks. If a school knows that a student requires Special Examination Arrangements, it should trial the same arrangements in classroom activities and School-based Assessments. Schools are encouraged to contact the VCAA if they are unsure about appropriate arrangements.
For classroom learning, a scribe who is familiar to the student can be used. However, for School-based Assessments, scribes may not be closely associated with the students, and students requiring scribes will need to be supervised separately. If such arrangements are made, the principal should ensure that the VCAA procedures for authentication have been implemented, and that the teacher is able to attest, to the best of their knowledge, that all unacknowledged work is the student’s own.
Practical tasks for performing or for visual arts may not be undertaken by an aide.
Satisfactory completion of an outcome may be determined based on other work completed by the student in the study. The outcome result may be determined at the time, or later in the period over which the unit is conducted, depending on the availability of work on which determination is to be based.
It is important for schools to record how such results are determined. A student needs to have completed sufficient work to enable teachers to make a reliable and fair judgment.
If an extension or substitute task is not feasible or reasonable, or if the task is difficult to duplicate, a score may be derived from other assessments undertaken, or work completed, by the student. The score may be determined at the time, or later in the period over which the graded assessment is conducted, depending on the availability or range of assessments on which determination is to be based.
It is important for schools to record how scores are derived. A student needs to have completed sufficient work to enable teachers to make a reliable and fair assessment. The final score given to the student takes into account the student’s circumstances and their overall level of achievement relative to other students in the school.
School-assessed Tasks, Music Style and Composition Externally-assessed Task and Extended Investigation Externally-assessed Task Written Report
In some VCE studies, the completion of a folio, production item or research report is a requirement. Students who may be injured, ill or experiencing adverse personal circumstances during the period of time designated by the school for the completion of these types of tasks should be encouraged to complete the task.
The school could consider a range of options for the student:
- allowing an extension of time for the student to complete the task, but within the timeframe for the school to lodge the score by the relevant VCAA submission date. If the student is given an extension, but the work is still not complete by the due date, it should be assessed by the teacher as it is and that score sent to the VCAA
- contacting the VCAA (via a letter from the principal) for permission to allow the student an extension of time to complete the task that will enable a score to be submitted after the VCAA submission date. A VASS Score Amendment Sheet (SAS) must be lodged when the score becomes available
- allowing the student to complete the task in an agreed extended timeline for satisfactory completion purposes only, that is, if the student receives an S result for the VCE unit outcome, but is awarded a score of NA (not assessed) for the task
- deriving a score for the task based on work completed and/or other assessments.