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Advice for teachers -
Specialist Mathematics


Scope of tasks

For Units 1–4 in all VCE studies assessment tasks must be a part of the regular teaching and learning program and must not unduly add to the workload associated with that program. They must be completed mainly in class and within a limited timeframe.

Points to consider in developing an assessment task:

  1. List the relevant content from the areas of study and the relevant key knowledge and key skills for the outcomes.
  2. Develop the assessment task according to the specifications in the study design. It is possible for students in the same class to undertake different tasks, or variations of components for a task, however, teachers must ensure that the tasks or variations are comparable in scope and demand.
  3. Identify the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for in a student response and map these to the criteria, descriptors, rubrics or marking schemes being used to assess level of achievement.
  4. Identify the nature and sequence of teaching and learning activities to cover the relevant content, and key knowledge and key skills outlined in the study design and provide for different learning styles.
  5. Decide the most appropriate time to set the task. This decision is the result of several considerations including:
    • the estimated time it will take to cover the relevant content from the areas of study and the relevant key knowledge and key skills for the outcomes.
    • the possible need to provide preparatory activities or tasks
    • the likely length of time required for students to complete the task
    • when tasks are being conducted in other studies and the workload implications for students.

Units 1 and 2

The student's level of achievement in Units 1 and 2 is a matter for school decision. Assessments of levels of achievement for these units will not be reported to the VCAA. Schools may choose to report levels of achievement using grades, descriptive statements or other indicators.

In each VCE study at Units 1 and 2, teachers determine the assessment tasks to be used for each outcome in accordance with the study design.

Teachers should select a variety of assessment tasks for their program to reflect the content and key knowledge and key skills being assessed and to provide for different learning styles. Tasks do not have to be lengthy to make a decision about student demonstration of achievement of an outcome.

A number of options are provided in each study design to encourage use of a range of assessment activities. Teachers can exercise flexibility when devising assessment tasks at this level, within the parameters of the study design.

Note that more than one assessment task can be used to assess satisfactory completion of each outcome in the units, and that an assessment task can typically be used to assess more than one outcome.

There is no requirement to teach the areas of study in the order in which they appear in the units in the study design. In mathematics an activity or task will often draw on content from one or more areas of study in natural combination, and involve key knowledge and skills form all three outcomes for the study.

Units 3 and 4

The VCAA supervises the assessment for levels of achievement of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4.

There are two main forms of school based assessment: School-assessed Coursework (SAC) and in some studies, the School-assessed Task (SAT).

School–assessed CourseworkA SAC is selected from the prescribed list of assessment tasks designated for that outcome in the study design. A mark allocation is prescribed for each SAC. Teachers may use the VCAA provided performance criteria or teacher developed criteria, descriptors, rubrics or marking schemes.

The VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook provides more detailed information about School-assessed Coursework.

School-assessed TaskA SAT is a mandated task prescribed in the study design. The SAT is assessed using prescribed assessment criteria and accompanying performance descriptors published annually on the relevant study page on the VCAA website. Notification of their publication is given in the February VCAA Bulletin. Teachers will provide to the VCAA a score against each criterion that represents an assessment of the student’s level of performance. Details of authentication requirements and administrative arrangements for School-assessed Tasks are published annually in the current year’s VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook.

In VCE Specialist Mathematics Units 3 and 4, the student’s level of achievement will be determined by School-assessed Coursework and two end-of-year examinations. The VCAA will report the student’s level of performance as a grade from A+ to E or UG (ungraded) for each of three Graded Assessment components: Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework, Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework and the end-of-year examination.

In Units 3 and 4 school-based assessment provides the VCAA with two judgements:

S (satisfactory) or N (not satisfactory) for each outcome and for the unit; and levels of achievement determined through the specified assessment tasks in relation to all three outcomes for the study. School-assessed Coursework provides teachers with the opportunity to:

  • use the designated tasks in the study design
  • develop and administer their own assessment program for their students
  • monitor the progress and work of their students
  • provide important feedback to the student
  • gather information about the teaching program.

Teachers should design an assessment task that is representative of the content from the areas of study as applicable, addresses the outcomes and the key knowledge and key skills in accordance with the weightings provided in the study design, and allows students the opportunity to demonstrate the highest level of performance. It is important that students know what is expected of them in an assessment task. This means providing students with advice about relevant content from the areas of study, and the key knowledge and key skills to be assessed in relation to the outcomes. Students should know in advance how and when they are going to be assessed and the conditions under which they will be assessed.

Assessment tasks should be part of the teaching and learning program. For each assessment task students should be provided with the:

  • type of assessment task as listed in the study design and approximate date for completion
  • time allowed for the task
  • nature of the level of achievement assessment
  • nature of any materials they can utilise when completing the task
  • information about the relationship between the task and learning activities should also be provided as appropriate

Following an assessment task:

  • teachers can use the performance of their students to evaluate the teaching and learning program
  • a topic may need to be carefully revised prior to the end of the unit to ensure students fully understand content from the areas of study and key knowledge and key skills for the outcomes to assist in preparation for examinations
  • feedback provides students with important advice about which aspect or aspects of the key knowledge they need to learn and in which key skills they need more practice.

School assessed coursework for Specialist Mathematics Units 3 and 4

For each unit School-assessed Coursework contributes 17 per cent to the study score. It provides the opportunity for non-routine contexts to be explored in some depth and breadth over a longer continuous period of time where modelling, problem-solving, or investigative techniques or approaches and for the related use of technology to be suitably incorporated.

Contexts used may be practical, theoretical or a combination of both. In particular student will consider assumptions, conditions and constraints involved, make decisions involving general case analysis and communicate key stages of mathematical reasoning: formulation, solution, and interpretation with respect to the context.