Changing the conditions for success: the introduction of school-assessed coursework and student performance in the VCE

Year: 2002

Author: Timmins, Robyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper considers the changes to assessment practice in the Victorian Certificate of Education and the relationship between school-based assessment, the conditions under which it is taken and the outcomes for the whole cohort.

In 1998, more stringent conditions for school based assessment were introduced to counter the claims of plagiarism, cheating and undue assistance around the existing school based assessment program of Common Assessment Tasks (CATs). The new program of school assessed coursework has resulted in improved outcomes for students from disadvantaged schools, improved outcomes for boys and levelled the playing field.

These outcomes are analysed in terms of the constraints the new assessment program imposes on curriculum design and its capacity to engage and retain students in post-compulsory education.

Finally the structure of senior secondary curriculum and assessment is considered in relation to recent research from Dr Bob Birrell of Monash University and earlier work by Associate Professor Richard Teese from the University of Melbourne. Both propose quite different solutions to the issue of retention and performance of students in the senior secondary years.