Information in this chapter relating to the VCE includes the Vocational Major (VM), unless stated otherwise. Where VCE VM is referred to separately from the VCE, the information is specific to the VM program.
There are two forms of school-based assessment for VCE Units 3 and 4:
- The school-assessed coursework (SAC), which consists of a set of tasks that assesses each student’s level of achievement in Units 3 and 4 outcomes as specified in the study design. Schools provide a score for each component of coursework specified in the study design. The VCAA aggregates these scores into a single total score for each student, which is then statistically moderated against the examination scores in the study. The General Achievement Test (GAT) may also be used in statistical moderation.
- A school-assessed task (SAT), which is set by the VCAA to assess specific sets of practical skills and knowledge. Teachers assess the student’s level of achievement on the basis of a rating against criteria specified by the VCAA. Schools provide a score for each criterion. The VCAA aggregates these scores into a single total score for each student, which is then statistically moderated against the examination scores in the study. The GAT may also be used in statistical moderation.
School policies and procedures, including the conditions and rules under which school-based assessment will take place, must be communicated to students and their parent(s) or guardian(s) at the beginning of the academic year or when a student enrols in any VCE unit at the school.
Each VCE unit result must be determined on the basis of evidence of achievement completed during the academic year in which the student is enrolled. The VCAA recognises that some schools will begin teaching programs late in the year before enrolment. These programs are generally one to three weeks in length; for Units 3 and 4, they must not include formal school-based assessment for the assessment of levels of achievement or to determine a unit result.
Principals are responsible for the administration of the VCAA’s rules and instructions in their school. One of these rules is that students must make sure that all work submitted for assessment is genuinely their own.
Teachers may consider it appropriate to ask students to demonstrate their understanding of the task at, or about the time of, the submission of their work. If any part or all of the work cannot be authenticated, the matter must be dealt with as a breach of rules.
Rules for authentication of school-based assessment
Students must observe and apply the VCAA authentication rules for school-based assessment.
Students must sign an authentication record for work done outside class when they submit the completed task.
The VCAA authentication rules for school-based assessment state that a student must:
- make sure that all work submitted for assessment is their own
- not plagiarise the work of someone else or other source
- not cheat
- acknowledge all resources used, including:
- texts, websites and other source material
- the name and status of any person or source who provided assistance and the type of assistance provided
- not receive undue assistance from another person, including their teacher, or source in the preparation and submission of work.
Acceptable levels of assistance include:
Unacceptable forms of assistance include:
- incorporating ideas or material derived from other sources (for example, by reading, viewing or note taking), but which have been transformed by the student and used in a new context
- prompting and general advice from another person or source, which leads to refinements or self-correction or both
- use of or copying another person’s work, including their teacher’s work, another source’s work or other resources without acknowledgement
- use of or copying sample answers provided by their teacher, another person or another source
- corrections or improvements made or dictated by another person, including their teacher, or another source
- not submit the same piece of work for assessment in more than one study, or more than once within a study
- not circulate or publish a piece of work that is being submittedfor assessment in a study in the academic year of enrolment
- not knowingly assist another student in a breach of rules.
In considering if a student’s work is their own, teachers should consider if the work:
- is atypical of other work produced by the student
- is inconsistent with the teacher’s knowledge of the student’sability
- contains unacknowledged material
- has not been sighted and monitored by the teacher during its development.
Teachers must develop courses that include appropriate learning activities to enable students to demonstrate achievement of outcomes. To make sure that the work submitted by the students is clearly their own, undue assistance should not be provided to students while undertaking assessment tasks.
Students should be clearly informed of the timelines and the conditions under which assessment tasks are to be conducted, including whether any resources are permitted.
Work completed outside class
Most work for the assessment of unit outcomes and school-assessed coursework (SACs) will be completed in class; however, this does not preclude normal teacher expectations for students to complete research and learning activities that contribute to gaining key knowledge and skills outside of class time.
Additional work and study undertaken outside of class time will be required as part of the student’s regular learning program. The setting and marking of work with a formative focus provides students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills, and for teachers to provide diagnostic feedback.
A task for the assessment of unit outcomes may require preliminary preparation and activities associated with the task (for example, gathering necessary research data). The amount of work to be completed as homework is decided by the teacher, taking into account the nature, scope and purpose of the task. Students should be advised just before beginning the task that some information or data might be collected outside the classroom.
For SACs undertaken outside of class time, teachers must monitor and record each student’s progress through to completion. This requires regular sightings of the work by the teacher and the keeping of records in the Authentication Record for school-based assessment form which is available to download on VASS.
Teachers are not required to formally sight drafts or record students’ completion of drafts unless it is a requirement of the VCE study design or for authentication purposes or both. Drafting can remain a part of a teaching and learning strategy, and students may do preliminary drafting for SACs. However, students and teachers must follow the VCAA authentication rules regarding acceptable levels of assistance in relation to providing feedback on the draft, in order to maintain the integrity of the SACs and ensure the authenticity of each student’s work.
Teachers must make sure that there is a sufficient range of topics within their SATs to distinguish each student’s work and, therefore, to assist in the authentication process.
Teachers are required to follow the authentication advice in the relevant Administrative information for school-based assessment for their VCE study to make sure no undue assistance is provided to students during the development of an SAT that might lead to uncertainty about the student’s authorship or ownership of the work.
Teachers must monitor and record each student’s development of work, from planning and drafting through to completion, in the study-specific School-assessed task authentication record form, also available on the relevant VCE study page. This requires regular sightings of the work by the teacher.
Observations of individual work done in class should be recorded. The teacher and student must sign each recorded observation.
Strategies for avoiding authentication problems
The following strategies will reduce the possibility of authentication problems occurring in VCE Units 1 to 4, or problems being difficult to resolve:
- Teachers should devise a teaching and learning program that provides opportunities for students to develop the key knowledge and skills required to produce work that is clearly their own, without undue assistance from another person including their teacher.
- Teachers should make sure that tasks are kept secure before delivery, to avoid unauthorised release to students that would compromise the assessment. Tasks should not be sent or stored electronically without due care.
- A significant amount of class time should be spent on the task so that the teacher is familiar with each student’s work in progress and can regularly monitor and discuss aspects of the work with each student.
- Students should document the specific stages of the development of work, starting with an early part of the task, such as the topic choice, list of resources or preliminary research or both.
- Copies of each student’s written work should be filed at given stages in their development.
- Assessment tasks should not be recycled, unless modifications are made to make sure that students are unable to use other students’ work from a previous academic year.
- Where commercially produced materials are being used for school-based assessment, the school should make sure the tasks meet the requirements of the study design and that they have been sufficiently modified to be unique to the school to enable student work to be authenticated.
- Where publicly available materials are being used for school-based assessment, the school should make sure the tasks meet the requirements of the study design and that they have been sufficiently modified to be unique to the school to enable student work to be authenticated.
- If there is more than one class of a particular study in the school, the school should apply internal moderation or cross-marking procedures or both to ensure consistency of assessments between teachers. Teachers are advised to apply the same approach to authentication and record keeping, as cross-marking sometimes reveals possible breaches of authentication. The early liaison on topics and sharing of draft student work between teachers enables possible authentication problems to be identified earlier and appropriate action to be taken sooner.
- Students should acknowledge tutors, if they have them, and discuss and show the work done with them. Ideally, liaison between class teachers and tutors can provide the maximum benefit for students and make sure that tutors are aware of the authentication requirements. Similar advice applies to students who receive regular help from a family member.
Scheduling assessment tasks
Teachers are advised to give students the dates for completion of assessment tasks in advance, considering the Important administrative dates. The Assessment schedule has the dates by which schools must submit results to the VCAA and should be used in conjunction with the Important administrative dates.
Schools should consider issues of authentication and student workload in deciding when specific details regarding tasks are given to students.
An extension may be needed to account for circumstances in which a student or group of students has not been given appropriate time to undertake or complete school-based assessment.
Rescheduling assessment tasks for an entire class
If teachers wish to reschedule an assessment task because their students are not ready to be assessed, or due to other circumstances, they should provide adequate notification to all students in the class or classes.
An extension of time for all students in a class should be given only on the condition that they are all given adequate notice and that no student in the class or in another class is advantaged or disadvantaged.
Rescheduling an assessment task for an individual student
Extension of time for an individual student to complete a task should be granted only in special circumstances.
An extension of time may be permitted, but not into the next academic year.
Schools are required to have a policy outlining conditions under which an extension of time for individuals may be granted. It should be common across all VCE units within a school and should contain details including:
- a formal process for applying for an extension of time
- the rules of eligibility
- the maximum period for an extension
- the conditions under which an extension will be allowed.
See Special provision: Classroom learning and school-based assessment.
Extensions for tasks related to units of competency (UoCs) contributing to scored VCE VET sequences cannot be permitted beyond the final date for results submission. Unit completion is essential for finalising study scores, which must be calculated at the same time for all VCE studies.
Determining initial school-based assessments
Each school should have established procedures for determining school-based assessments and should apply these procedures consistently. There should be consistency in the decisions made by teachers of individual studies and in the decisions made by multiple teachers of one study.
All teachers should review the Statistical moderation report (available on VASS) related to their study. Where the internal assessment scale is misaligned against the external assessment scale the school may wish to consider establishing a professional partnership with another provider to further develop teacher capacity to align internal and external assessment scales.
Determining initial school-based assessments where there is more than one class in the school
If there is more than one class in a study, teachers should consult with one another to develop school-based assessments. The following approaches will help schools to review their current assessment arrangements or establish new practices with regards to cross-marking or internal moderation or both.
- Teachers meet to discuss performance descriptors or assessment criteria, topics and approaches used for the task.
- Teachers grade the task from their own classes.
- Teachers swap samples and carry out blind marking.
- If necessary, teachers mark further tasks or reassess tasks from their own class.
- Difficult cases are further discussed before results are entered.
- Teachers combine and distribute the student tasks among themselves for assessment.
- The results are returned to the class teacher, who reassesses all tasks or the tasks of students who have unexpected results.
- Unusual cases are considered by all teachers concerned.
- Samples from all classes are distributed.
- All teachers assess the same tasks.
- Differences in results are discussed to gain a clearer and more consistent understanding of the application of the performance descriptors or assessment criteria.
- When all teachers are confident they have a consistent understanding of the application of the performance descriptors or assessment criteria, each teacher assesses tasks from their own class.
Determining initial school-based assessments in partnership with another school
Best practice recommends that initial discussions take place at the beginning of the academic year between teachers from different schools.
It is useful to swap some drafts of typical work early in the process of completing the school-based assessment. The earlier a common understanding between teachers is established, the more smoothly the process will be completed.
Teachers in schools that are combining their individual assessments will find it useful to discuss, and come to an agreement on, student completion dates.
Refer to Administrative information: Schools and registered training organisations for information about setting up partnerships specifically for school-based assessment.
Producing a combined set of comparable scores for a school-based assessment
The following steps are recommended:
- Participating teachers should discuss the requirements of the study design, the chosen assessment tasks for each outcome, the performance descriptors or assessment criteria for each task or outcome, and the assessment program of each of the partnership schools. This communication should occur as early as possible, and not later than the expected date of completion of the first designated assessment task for the unit.
- The teachers should establish agreement on the procedures to be followed to ensure comparability of assessments. This includes the scheduling and marking schemes of any tasks to be done in common.
- Each school reviews the assessment tasks of its own students. It is expected that the schools with more than one class for the study will apply their own procedures to achieve comparability of assessments within their school.
- Each school selects student tasks for cross-marking. For small-group partnerships, this should include all the tasks from the school with the small group, and at least an equivalent number from the partner school. For other partnerships, teachers should agree on an appropriate number, preferably at least five pieces from each school. For each task, the second marking should be ‘blind’ – that is, made without any knowledge of the assessment given by the student’s own teacher.
- Teachers then discuss both assessments for each task and agree on a final score. If the teachers cannot reach consensus, the two scores should be averaged or adjusted appropriately. As a result of the cross-marking exercise, it may be necessary to adjust the assessments of other tasks not included in the cross-marking.
- When all assessments have been finalised, the scores for each student on each task should be collated in a single list for the partnership. Each school must keep a copy of this list, as the VCAA may request it for analysis purposes.
VCE Units 3 and 4 school-assessed coursework
School-assessed coursework (SAC) consists of a set of assessment tasks that assesses each student’s level of achievement in VCE Units 3 and 4 outcomes, as specified in the study design.
School-assessed coursework preparation
For each new or revised VCE study from 2022, information that was formerly contained in Advice for teachers is now incorporated and published as support materials on each VCE study page. Information that was contained in a separate Assessment handbook between 2015 and 2022 has been incorporated into a single Advice for teachers publication. Studies accredited before 2015 have both an Advice for teachers and an Assessment handbook.
The support materials include assessment information about Units 3 and 4 SAC. Advice is provided on how to construct and incorporate assessment tasks and how to grade these tasks using performance descriptors.
Notification of any changes to assessment advice during the course of study will be made available to teachers via the VCAA Bulletin and VCAA website.
Schools are responsible for the initial SAC assessment. The basis for this is the teacher’s rating of the performance of each student on the tasks specified in the study design. The support materials, Advice for teachers and Assessment handbook for each VCE study, include advice on SAC assessment.
Schools should not attempt to apply an additional ranking process after assessments have been completed. This approach is unnecessary, and schools should not try to determine individual rankings for students as a separate part of the assessment process.
Feedback to students
After assessment tasks are submitted and marked, teachers should provide feedback to students. Appropriate feedback includes:
- advising on particular problem areas
- advising on where and how improvements can be made for further learning
- reporting S or N decisions and providing written comments on students’ performance against each outcome.
Schools may choose this as a basis for reporting to a student’s parent(s) or guardian(s). In providing this feedback, teachers may give students their marks on individual SAC tasks. If providing marks, teachers must advise students that their total SAC scores may change following statistical moderation.
Schools should include in student VCE handbooks advice:
- about the conditional nature of any SAC marks given to students
- about how statistical moderation can impact total scores for SAC.
Although schools may permit students to submit further evidence for satisfactory completion of a unit, students may not submit further tasks for the reconsideration of SAC scores awarded by the school.
The decision about whether or not to return school-based assessments to students rests with the school.
Lost, stolen or damaged school-assessed coursework
If a teacher or student has lost a SAC task, or it has been stolen or damaged, they must complete a written statement explaining the circumstances. The statement must be signed, dated and filed at the school. The school must keep a record but is not required to report it to the VCAA. The principal will determine an initial score for the assessment task, acting on advice from the teacher and based on their assessment records.
VCE school-assessed tasks
The information provided here applies to the SATs for the following Units 3 and 4 studies:
- Algorithmics (HESS) (AL03)
- Art Creative Practice (AR03)
- Art Making and Exhibiting (SA03)
- Applied Computing
- Data Analytics (IT02)
- Software Development (IT03)
- Media (ME03)
- Product Design and Technology (DT03)
- Systems Engineering (SE03)
- Visual Communication Design (VC03).
SATs assess specific sets of practical skills and knowledge and are used to measure a student’s level of achievement in Units 3 and 4 outcomes as specified in the relevant study design. The VCE study designs outline the task requirements for assessment purposes. Administrative Information for school-based assessment is published annually for each VCE study with an SAT component and includes the scope, nature and criteria for SATs along with the authentication information, the Authentication record form and Assessment Sheet. Teachers must use the correct Administrative Information for school-based assessment (available on the VCE study page) for the current academic year.
Advice on developmental stages of school-assessed tasks
As part of the authentication process through observations, teachers are required to provide feedback to students on work in progress for an SAT. These comments are to be noted on the Authentication record form.
Teachers must follow the authentication advice in the relevant Administrative Information for school-based assessment for their VCE study to make sure no undue assistance is provided to students during the development of an SAT that might lead to uncertainty about the student’s authorship or ownership of the work.
Assessment of school-assessed tasks
Schools are responsible for the initial assessment of a student’s level of achievement in SATs. The basis for this is the teacher’s rating of the performance of each student against the set of criteria that is published each year by the VCAA in the Administrative Information for school-based assessment, available on the VCE study pages. The VCAA provides detailed descriptors of levels of performance for each criterion. These criteria are mandated, and schools must use the descriptors when making assessment judgments.
Information is provided annually through the Administrative Information for school-based assessment and the VCAA’s professional learning program and resources, details of which are announced in the VCAA Bulletin or published on the relevant study page.
Principals must make sure that teachers receive all relevant assessment material and that they use the assessment criteria and advice for the current year as published on the relevant study page, to accurately assess students’ work.
Assessment Sheets for school-assessed tasks
The VCAA provides Assessment Sheets, which are published annually and made available on the relevant VCE study page as part of the Administrative information for school-based assessment. The Assessment Sheets specify the criteria for the awarding of initial scores. Schools must use the Assessment Sheets for the current academic year. Each criterion has a numerical scale of 0 to 10 and schools award an initial score for each criterion. Each criterion score is to be entered on VASS and must be submitted by the relevant submission date. The determination of the date to return SATs to students rests with the school. Schools should maintain access to work completed for assessment until the end of the academic year in which the work was undertaken.
Submitting initial results to the VCAA
The assessing school should enter SAT initial scores into VASS by the due date specified for each study in the Assessment schedule.
Feedback to students
Feedback is provided to students at observation points throughout the SAT. These comments are noted on the Authentication Record form. In addition, after the SAT has been submitted and marked, teachers provide feedback to students on their level of achievement. This is also documented on the Authentication record form. It must be made clear to students that school assessment results may change due to the statistical moderation process. The earliest date SATs may be returned to students is published annually in the Important administrative dates.
Lost, stolen or damaged school-assessed tasks
If a teacher or student has lost an SAT, or the task has been stolen or damaged, they must complete a written statement of the circumstances. The statement must be signed, dated and filed at the school. The school must complete the Report on lost, stolen or damaged school-assessed tasks and externally assessed tasks form, enter an estimated score on VASS and email the form to the School-based Assessment Audit team.
The principal, acting on advice from the teacher and on the basis of records kept on the Authentication record forms, will determine an initial assessment.
Student transfers after the due date
If a student transfers after the due date for the study in which the SAT is scheduled, the student’s SAT must stay with the assessing school until after the return of student work.
VCE VET school-assessed coursework
In order to be eligible for a study score, students must demonstrate competence in the UoCs that make up the Unit 3–4 sequence. Students must also satisfy all the requirements of scored assessment.
Each scored VCE VET program requires the satisfactory completion of three SAC tasks that are integrated into the delivery of the VET training program. An Assessment Plan is required for each VCE VET scored program. Full details of the assessment process for scored VCE VET programs are published in the VCE VET scored assessment guide.
VCE VET school-assessed coursework audits
The VCAA will audit scored coursework assessment tasks in a number of schools or assessing groups each year. The audit will be undertaken at the end of the current school year and include sampling coursework tasks to determine whether the VCAA requirements, outlined in the VCE VET scored assessment guide, have been followed. The audit outcomes will be provided to the home school at the start of the following school year.
Managing score amendments
When the due date for assessments has passed, student results that have been entered on VASS for that cycle will be locked. Any administrative errors in entering the results must be amended using a Score Amendment Sheet, which is generated through VASS. The completed Score Amendment Sheet must be signed by the principal or their delegate, and forwarded to the Manager, Student Records and Results Unit, with:
- a written explanation of the reason for the alteration to the score, signed by the principal
- a copy of the original Assessment Sheet.
If the SAS is received after the final grade has been allocated, the VCAA will determine the final grade.
VCE school-based assessment audit
The school-based assessment audit checks that school-based assessment is conducted in line with VCE assessment principles and the requirements of the relevant study design.
Principals are encouraged to support teachers whose studies are being audited throughout this process.
The school-based assessment audit occurs in two stages for both Units 3 and 4. The first stage involves the completion of a study-specific questionnaire. Teachers complete the questionnaire on behalf of the school. The second stage involves only schools that have been asked to provide evidence of any aspect of the assessment, including tasks, assessment information provided to students, marking schemes or criteria, moderation processes or samples of student work.
The audit examines school-based assessments for compliance with requirements, seeking to identify irregularities where the VCAA requirements have not been followed. The audit findings assist in planning the VCAA assessment advice and professional development support for teachers. Schools will receive feedback on the findings of the audit.
A more detailed overview of this process is provided in General advice on the school-based assessment audit.
If a school is being audited for a VCE VET study, the supporting documentation from teachers of scored VCE VET programs should include:
- the three scored tasks set by the teacher or trainer
- a copy of the Assessment Plan for the identified VCE VET program.
School-based assessment: Breaches of rules and investigations
Schools are responsible for making sure students comply with VCAA rules for school-based assessment. For advice on school-based assessment, refer to Work completed outside class in School-assessed coursework, Strategies for avoiding authentication problems in Scored assessment: School-based assessment and the VCAL assessment page.
Schools should have their own policy and procedures for dealing with allegations that students have breached VCAA examination rules or school-based assessment authentication rules. The policy and procedures should be clear about roles and responsibilities and who the decision-maker is in relation to any alleged breaches. The school policy and procedures should set out the process that will be followed when an allegation is received, the communication that can be expected from the school during the process of investigation and decision-making, the opportunities that will be available for the student to respond to allegations and the possible penalties and the avenues of appeal.
The school policy and procedures should be made available and explained to students and others in the school community at the start of the academic year.
A student undertaking assessment under test conditions as part of school-based assessment in Units 1–4 must comply with VCAA examination rules and school rules. The VCAA examination rules are distributed to all VCE providers and students in both the GAT brochure and VCE Exams Navigator each year.
Investigation of breaches of school-based assessment rules
Some guidance on process and procedures for dealing with breaches of VCAA examination rules or breaches of VCAA rules for authentication of school-based assessment is provided here, but this is not a substitute for schools developing and familiarising students with the school’s own policy and procedures.
Reporting alleged breaches of rules in school-based assessment
The school’s policy and procedures should make clear who is responsible for receiving reports of allegations of breaches of rules in school-based assessment. The principal or an authorised member of the principal class may wish to be the initial point of contact for reports and delegate the conduct of investigations to a person of appropriate seniority and experience.
Allegations may be made by any person with information that suggests rules have been breached, for example, a teacher, a student, a parent or guardian, or an external party such as a tutor.
Allegations should be handled sensitively and may need to be kept confidential.
On a school’s receipt of an allegation, the student’s work should not be accepted for assessment, pending the conduct of an investigation by the school. The original of the final version of the work is to be retained by the school. The student should be given a copy of the work.
On receipt of an allegation, the person responsible for investigating alleged breaches of rules should conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if there is any substance to the allegation requiring further, more rigorous investigation. Detailed records of the preliminary investigation should be kept and may be used in any later decision-making. The school may decide it is appropriate to appoint an external person to carry out the investigation and report back to the school decision-maker. The student should be advised that an investigation is to take place.
The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether there is any substance to an allegation that a student has breached VCAA examination rules or VCAA authentication rules for school-based assessment. If so, the evidence should be put to a decision-maker for determination.
The investigator must approach the investigation with an open mind and act fairly and without bias. They should consider the allegation against the student, the evidence of anyone who might have something relevant to say about the allegation, and any documents or information that may shed light on whether an allegation has substance. Some or all the information and evidence gathered during the investigation may show that the allegation against the student is unfounded; this evidence should not be discounted.
The investigation may include discussions with the teacher supervising the assessment and any other witnesses, including other students.
Relevant evidence includes:
- any instructions given to students by the teacher about the conditions under which the school-based assessment was to be undertaken (including the VCAA examination rules)
- the student’s work
- copies of specific notes or another student’s work or any other evidence of copying or cheating, such as unacknowledged source material if such an allegation relates to the use of unauthorised notes or cheating or copying from other students
- samples of other work by the student for comparison, if relevant
- the teacher’s record of authentication
- the teacher’s opinion about the student’s work
- accurate notes of conversations with witnesses, the teacher and the student.
If the investigation suggests there is any substance to any part of the allegation, the student should be informed in writing of the nature of the allegation and be invited to attend an interview to respond. Adequate notice of the interview should be given to the student, who should be given the opportunity to bring a support person to the interview. The support person is there to provide moral support, rather than to represent the student or to speak on their behalf.
If a student elects not to attend an interview, they should be given an opportunity to respond in writing to any allegation against them.
The student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) may be advised of the nature of the allegation, depending on the school’s policy in relation to reporting discipline matters and communication with parent(s) or guardian(s), and the school’s knowledge of the student’s personal circumstances.
If an allegation suggests that a student has submitted work that is not their own, the investigator should ask the student to provide evidence that demonstrates that the work submitted is their own or was completed in accordance with VCAA requirements or both.
The student may be asked to:
- provide evidence of the development of the work
- discuss the content of the work with the teacher and answer questions to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the work
- provide samples of their other work
- complete, under supervision, a supplementary assessment task related to the original task.
The school’s policy and procedures should make clear who in the school has the authority to decide if a student has breached VCAA examination rules or VCAA authentication rules for school-based assessment. The principal may wish to make the decision following receipt of a report from a staff member or other person appointed to carry out the investigation. Alternatively, the principal may wish to delegate their authority to make decisions about alleged breaches of VCAA examination rules and VCAA authentication rules for school-based assessment to a hearing panel comprising members appointed by the principal.
It is important that the decision-maker is not the same person as the investigator. The material gathered during the investigation should be provided to the decision-maker, including evidence that suggests the allegations are not proven, as well as any responses the student provided during the investigation.
If the decision-maker forms an independent view that the evidence against the student is insufficient to establish the allegations against the student, the decision-maker should confirm this in writing to the student and advise that no further action will be taken.
If the decision-maker considers that there is sufficient evidence to justify a meeting or hearing to decide whether or not the allegations are proven, a meeting or hearing should be convened so that the evidence can be considered and the student given an opportunity to be heard. The decision-maker should reserve their judgment until they have heard from the student at the meeting or hearing.
The following principles apply to whoever is given the authority to make the decision regarding alleged breaches of rules:
- The decision-maker must act fairly and without bias.
- The student must receive at least 24 hours’ written notice of the meeting or hearing conducted by the decision-maker. The notice should include:
- the date, time, place and likely duration of the meeting or hearing
- the allegation(s) against the student
- the names of all decision-makers
- advice that the student may bring a support person to the meeting or hearing (see below)
- the name of a contact person if the student has queries about the meeting or hearing
- a copy of any evidence that the decision-makers will consider at the meeting or hearing, including whether any witnesses will be present at the meeting or hearing
- the possible outcomes, including penalties.
- It is generally appropriate, depending on the age and circumstances of the student, to allow a parent or guardian or other support person to be present at any interview, meeting or hearing. The meeting or hearing should be conducted at the school, in an environment that is not intimidating for the student but that is appropriate given the nature of the allegation.
- At the meeting or hearing, the decision-maker must explain the purpose of the meeting or hearing to the student and confirm the allegation against the student and the possible outcomes.
- The decision-maker may ask questions of the student.
- The student must be given the opportunity at the meeting or hearing to respond to the evidence against them and to ask questions of any witnesses present at the meeting or hearing.
- The decision-maker must consider all evidence and submissions carefully, including the student’s response, and whether the allegation (and the student’s defence) is supported by evidence that is relevant and credible.
- The decision-maker must consider all relevant factors and no irrelevant factors.
- The decision-maker must decide on the balance of probabilities whether the allegation(s) can be proven – the allegation does not have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
- The decision-maker must decide, in relation to any allegation(s) found to be proven, whether a penalty should be imposed, and, if so, what penalty is appropriate. Subject to the school’s policy on contravention of VCAA examination rules and VCAA rules for authentication of school-based assessment, possible penalties could include:
- a verbal or written warning
- detention or suspension
- refusal to consider the student’s work but an opportunity for the student to resubmit the work if there is sufficient time before the due date for submission of results according to the VCAA schedule
- refusal to accept the part of the student’s work found to have been completed in contravention of VCAA rules and a subsequent determination of the appropriate result for the relevant outcome forming part of the VCE unit
- refusal to accept any part of the work, awarding an N for the outcome.
- The decision-maker should inform the student of the decision and any penalty to be imposed at the meeting or hearing, and of the student’s right to appeal the decision to the VCAA in accordance with section 2.5.21 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic). The decision-maker should keep accurate records of their decision, the reasons for their decision and the penalty imposed, to enable the school to confirm these matters in writing.
After the meeting or hearing, the school must write to the student to confirm:
- the findings of the decision-maker in relation to the allegation(s) against the student (setting out each allegation and corresponding decision)
- the reasons for the decision on each allegation, and the supporting evidence
- any penalty that will be imposed
- information about the student’s right to appeal to the VCAA under section 2.5.21 of the Education and Training Reform Act, including that the appeal must be lodged with the VCAA no later than 14 days after the student receives written notice of the decision from the school.
The school should retain all material related to the allegation in case the student wishes to appeal a decision.
If the student’s work was accepted for assessment and a breach of VCAA rules was discovered after the work had been assessed, the penalty should be applied and, if necessary, the student’s records adjusted. For example, the original outcome result may change from an S to an N. If an N is awarded for an outcome, an N will be awarded for the unit concerned.
Similarly, the detected breach of VCAA rules may result in a score change. This score change should be communicated to the VCAA through the completion of the Score Amendment Sheet.
Other outcomes may be appropriate if, for example, the breach of VCAA rules relates to the student’s conduct in disrupting a school-based assessment task conducted under test conditions.
Student appeals against school decisions about breaches of VCAA rules
The school’s policy and procedures about breaches of VCAA examination rules or school-based assessment authentication rules should include information about the student’s statutory right of appeal against the school’s decision.
Section 2.5.21 of the Education and Training Reform Act provides that a student may appeal to the VCAA against a decision by the school, and any penalty imposed by the school, in respect of a contravention of the VCAA assessment rules relating to school-based assessments. This right of appeal does not apply to decisions about the satisfactory completion of a course arising from a student’s attendance, or other disciplinary decisions of a school not arising from a contravention of VCAA assessment rules.
An appeal against a school decision must be made in writing to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), VCAA, no later than 14 days after the student receives written notice of the decision from the school. On receipt of a notice of appeal from a student, the CEO, VCAA must nominate an employee of the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Education to interview the parties to the appeal and attempt to resolve the matter.
Notice of school decision following interviews
Following the interview conducted by the VCAA, the school must notify both the student and the VCAA, in writing and within seven days, that it has either:
- rescinded its decision and any penalty imposed
- rescinded the penalty imposed
- reduced the penalty imposed
- confirmed both the decision and the penalty imposed.
If the school rescinds its decision and any penalty imposed in relation to the student, the student’s appeal to the VCAA is taken to have been withdrawn.
The VCAA must ask the student to either withdraw the appeal or confirm that the appeal is to proceed if the school has:
- rescinded the penalty imposed
- reduced the penalty imposed
- confirmed both the decision and the penalty imposed.
If a student elects to proceed with an appeal, the CEO, VCAA must refer the appeal to be heard and determined by a review committee. An appeal of this nature is conducted as a re-hearing. This means that the Review Committee hears evidence from both the student and the school and makes its own decision on the evidence. It is not a review of the school’s procedures and handling of the allegation(s) against the student.
If the Review Committee is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the student has breached VCAA rules relating to school-based assessment, it may either:
- reprimand the student
- permit the student, if practicable, to resubmit the schoolwork required for either:
- assessment in the study or the course
- satisfactory completion of the study or the course
- refuse to accept part of the work and request the school to assess the student on the remainder of the work submitted
- amend the student’s school-based assessment results.