Philosophy of Assessment in the High School
Student learning and achievement is an ongoing process. The aim of High School assessment is to use a variety of strategies that allow us to measure progress and celebrate student achievement as well as to help to direct teaching processes. This helps us to maintain academic standards and ensure that teaching and learning is engaging and appropriate.
Assessment for Learning
This is the way that we identify what students know prior to beginning a year level or even a unit of work. Examples of diagnostic tools used in the High School are Progressive Achievement Tests, the International Schools Assessment ACER tests in Years 9 and 10 in particular and for enrolment. We also run diagnostic common mathematics tests at the start of Year 9 and 11 to ensure appropriate setting of classes. Other strategies may be used by a teacher at the start of a particular area of work to assess prior learning.
Students are enrolled into a particular year level by chronological age; however, prior learning experiences and development of skills always differ between students and for this reason whilst diagnostic testing is useful, it is recognized that each child is a unique individual with different needs and therefore may require different support levels for any course or unit of work.
Assessment as Learning
Ongoing assessment is important in any program, and students are informed of key items of assessment in advance. A variety of strategies are used to look at student work or performances and measure this against set criteria and rubrics. In some cases the rubrics have been developed internally, in others they are based on external requirements and rubrics established in course guides for a particular subject in a particular program.
Assessment of Learning
This is the process of summative assessment and each of the three programs in the High School has specific requirements for assessment, whether they be external examinations with an internal assessment component or internally marked assessment which is then externally moderated. The students’ knowledge and understanding of concepts, application and skills, research/investigation and presentation are assessed. Students are informed in advance of summative assessment and periods when this will occur.
Students receive feedback on tasks completed. Scores for assessment tasks are posted on PowerSchool Grade Book which is accessible by parents. Formal paper copies of reports are prepared at the end of Term1, and Semester 1 and 2.
The Australian Capital Territory Curriculum
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) program is a two year course for students in Year 11 and Year 12. The program is administered by the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS) based in Canberra, Australia. Students at International School Suva (ISS) who undertake the ACT program chose to study a tertiary package, which makes them eligible to receive an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). The ATAR is used by universities throughout Australia for entry selection and it may also be used for entrance to universities throughout the world. From this year onwards five learning areas will be common to all states under the Australian Curriculum banner, namely; English, Mathematics, Sciences, History and Geography. More at:http://www.bsss.act.edu.au/curriculum/australian_curriculum.
Courses and Assessments
The ACT curriculum provides a range of excellent courses in a wide range of subjects and since there is no prescribed combination of subjects; students are able to choose courses that play to their strengths. All subject courses delivered at ISS are approved and accredited by the BSSS in Canberra. Subjects are taught as units per semester, enabling students to either complete a major consisting of 3.5 or 4 units or a minor made up of 2 units. Students must complete either 4 majors and 1 minor or 3 majors and 3 minors to finish the program accumulating a minimum of 20 units, 18 of which must be tertiary units. . All assessments are school based, that is, they are internally designed by teachers in line with the framework set by the BSSS.
At the end of each semester, teachers from ISS present portfolios of students’ work at Moderation Meetings in Canberra. This moderation ensures grades and assessments are consistent across subjects and schools in the system. Whilst there are no external subject-specific examinations, students studying the tertiary package will sit the ACT Scaling Test (AST) in September of Year 12. This is a higher order thinking examination, used to compare tertiary scores within a school and across schools for calculating of the ATAR.
At ISS students typically study five to six subjects with a compulsory course in English and Mathematics for at least the first year. All academic courses at ISS are tertiary (T) courses. A T course is one that has been deemed suitable by the BSSS to prepare students for tertiary studies. Apart from T courses we offer the Duke of Edinburgh (DOE) and the Creativity, Arts and Service (CAS) programs classified as R courses. An R course is one which provides outside learning situations that are appropriate for students in Year 11 and Year 12. They give recognition for activities which lead to personal development, recreational or community service activities.
Warning: If students do not complete more than 70% of their tasks per unit OR are absent from class for more than 10% of the timetabled classes per semester OR both, they risk being voided from those units. Once students have voided a unit, they cannot gain credit for that unit.
Upon successful completion of their studies students obtain the following certificates which can be useful for tertiary applications.
1. The ACT Senior Secondary Certificate and Record of Achievement – this reports the years of attendance together with the units and grades undertaken at the graduating college.
2. The Tertiary Entrance Statement – this reports the information used to calculate the student’s ATAR. This will report the top three majors and the fourth best major or minor.
For further information on the ACT Senior Secondary System visit the BSSS website – http://www.bsss.act.edu.au/information_for_students.
The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) program is part of the University of Cambridge International Examinations and there are over 70 subjects available in over 124 countries worldwide. Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds. It is recognised by leading universities and employers worldwide, and is an international passport to progression and success. Developed over 25 years ago, it is tried, tested and trusted by schools worldwide.
Cambridge IGCSE is a two year program leading to an internationally recognised certificate. The assessments take place at the end of the course (May/June and October/November) and results are published in August and January. These can include written, oral, coursework and practical assessments. This broadens opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning, particularly when their first language is not English. In many subjects there is a choice between core and extended curricula, making Cambridge IGCSE suitable for a wide range of abilities.
Grades are benchmarked using eight internationally recognised grades, A* to G, which have clear guidelines to explain the standard of achievement for each grade. In order for students to be awarded the IGCSE Certificate students must take the final examinations that are externally set and graded. The IGCSE is an excellent preparatory course for the rigors of the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate or the International Baccalaureate Diploma and is widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic achievement.
Students start the program in Year 9 and the subjects currently on offer are: (Accounting, Art and Design, Business Studies, Coordinated Science, English First Language, English Literature, Foreign Language French, Foreign Language Mandarin Chinese, Global Perspectives, History, Information Communication Technology, (International) Mathematics, Music, Travel and Tourism).
Students can also take Drama and Physical Education in Years 9 and 10, however, these are not usually taken as an examination subject.
Students completing the IGCSE at ISS are also expected to complete the requirements for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Bronze Award.
“The Diploma Program is a challenging, internationally focused, broad and balanced educational experience for students 16-19 years of age.”1 It is a rigorous pre- university course of study for based two year course Students are required to study six subjects from different disciplines and a curriculum core. the programme is designed to prepare students with the academic skills needed for university study, further education in their selected profession in addition to developing values and skills needed to be lifelong learners.
The IB Diploma Programme is an excellent curriculum for students of a wide range of abilities and backgrounds. All Diploma Programme students participate in three course elements which make up the Core of the IB Diploma Programme. They include the studies of:
Theory of Knowledge, which is fundamentally a course about critical thinking and inquiry
Creativity, action and service involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies which will involve them in activities and programmes in three strands, including Arts and other experiences which enable them to think creatively, physical activities, leading to a healthier lifestyle and service activities, which in voluntary work, helping those in a wider community in need.
The Extended Essay offers the opportunity to conduct independent investigation in an area of interest, encompassing research and writing skills of a 4000 word academic essay.
Outside of the Core, there are six grouped areas of academic study, namely:
Group 1 – Language A: Literature and Language and Literature
Group 2 – Second Language: Chinese and French
Group 3 – Individuals in Society (Social Sciences): History, Economics and Business Studies
Group 4- Experimental Sciences: Physics, Biology and Chemistry
Group 5- Maths and Computer Science: Higher and Standard level Maths and Maths Studies
Group 6 – The Arts; Music Visual Arts and Theatre
Students must select one subject from each of the groups, or alternatively, instead of taking a Group 6 subject, students can take an extra subject from either Group 3 or Group 4. At ISS There is one interdisciplinary unit, Environmental Systems in Society, which could be taken as either a Science of Individuals in Society group, Environmental Systems in Society. Some students also choose to do Self Taught Language A instead of a second language. Whilst this is possible, students have to be fully fluent in their language of study.
Students will study each of the subjects at either a Higher Level or Standard Level (3 subjects must be taken at Higher Level). Each subject is graded from 1-7, with 7 being the highest level of achievement. Maximum score for a Diploma is 45 (6 x 7 and 3 for the Core subjects). There are varying ways to achieve a Diploma, but for the most part a minimum score of 24 will see a student be awarded a Diploma. Failure to complete any of the Core components will mean a student will not receive a Diploma. A Bilingual Diploma is awarded when a student has two languages at Language A level.
In each academic area, students have flexibility in making choices, which allows them to choose subjects that particularly interest them and that they may continue to study in university.
IB Subject Groups
1 IB DP From Principles into Practice . IBO, UK 2009.
High School Programs
Admissions High School Programs
The Mission Statement of International School Suva states that
‘ ISS is committed to rigorous and high academic standards and instillation of ideals of life-long learning and responsible global citizens. We strive to ensure that every student leaves ISS with an international understanding, an ability to think critically, act with compassion, care about themselves and others and display the attributes of Schoolwide Learner Outcomes.’
The admissions policy for High School Students is part of a schoolwide policy of open admission to the school. The expectation is that through this transparent process ISS can commit to provision of high quality education to students of all ages, and that the students are supported effectively in a program that is best suited to their educational needs and which embody the ideals identified in the Vision, Mission and Learner Outcomes.
Admission to a particular year level at International School Suva is strictly by age. To be eligible to enter the High School, it is expected that a student will
· be 14 and turn 15 during Year 9
· be 15 and turn 16 during Year 10
· be 16 and turn 17 during Year 11
· be 17 and turn 18 during Year 12
The procedural requirements for admission are that students complete an enrolment form, provide their latest school report, evidence of a valid visa, evidence of date of birth (birth certificate or passport), completion of Progressive Assessment Tests in English and Mathematics and completion of an interview. In some cases students will be required to complete an English language aptitude test, and to provide evidence of their English language ability, as outlined on our High School ‘Learning Support and English as a Second or Other Language’ page (which can be found here)
Placement in any year level of a child at, or older than, the age reflected above is based on the academic potential of the student and the capacity of the school to meet the student educational requirements. Data and student interview drives the decision made. Placement of a child younger than that stated above for any year level is only considered in exceptional circumstances where a child’s birthday fall before March 31st of the year of admission.
The placement of a child in any particular year level remains the responsibility of the Head of High School based on information provided by the parents and student performance in testing and interview. It is important to contact the school regarding whether ISS is able to accommodate special educational needs. Failure to provide full disclosure of any known special needs requirements on an application form may lead to cancellation of an existing enrolment. Similarly, should further testing be required to proceed with enrolment, it is the expectation that a place remains contingent on completion of the testing and evidence that ISS can accommodate the particular need tested for.
Availability and Space in Classes
It is possible to apply for enrolment at any time during the year; however, entry may be limited by current student numbers.
Entry is on a ‘first come, first served basis’ into the school. However students wishing to reserve and hold a place if they are arriving part way through a semester, may do so by completing entry requirements and paying a holding fee.
Students entering part way through an academic year may have restrictions placed on subject selection or completion of examination courses; particularly should a class be full. Course selection has to be approved by the Head of School and discussion is encouraged to ensure the student has courses that allow them to be as successful as possible.
English is the medium of instruction and it is the expectation that students learn a second language. The only exceptions considered are when a student chooses the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate program. The Language Policy will guide admission for students who have languages other than English. Similarly admission into a course of study in a second language will be defined by course regulations regarding prior learning or previous acquisition of language. Wherever possible, the school wishes to support mother tongue language learning.
Scholarships may be offered in Year 11 for a two year program, or Year 12 for completion of the final year of school. At least two full scholarships are offered each year. Students who are the appropriate age for admission are encouraged to apply using the scholarship application form. The application must include the latest report and examination results, proof of birth and a written statement indicating reasons for application to ISS.
Applications are vetted and shortlisted students undergo formal in-school examinations assessing critical thinking, English and Mathematics skills. A short-list is derived and these students are interviewed by a panel consisting of the Head of High School, the ACT and IB DP Coordinator. Selections are made on the basis of perceived future potential, academic performance in testing and best educational and social fit for the school. Students are screened carefully to ensure that their transition to ISS will be relatively smooth and with a high measure of personal success.
Once selected, the student is closely monitored. The Principal reserves the right to cancel a scholarship.
There is opportunity for students to obtain temporary short-term admission to the school. This will be on a case by case basis and at the discretion of the Principal and Head of School with consideration of the current programs run and impact entry will have on the existing student body.
Admission to specific programs
International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)
It is expected that those students who have completed Year 8 at ISS or satisfy age requirements on admission would normally progress into the IGCSE program. Students follow a full program of study defined by the Head of School and IGCSE Coordinator. Subjects offered are published in the Year 9 / 10 Curriculum Book and student selection of courses can be made via the Student Course selection sheet. Options are discussed prior to admission for new students, during parent meetings and teacher student meetings for students already at ISS. The final decision on admission to a particular course of study and subject selection is based on educational need and in cases of late entry, class size.
Students are expected to complete examinations in specified subjects at the end of Year 10. Students are also expected to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and Community and Service Program. Modifications to the program may be considered where there is an identified need however the procedure is that any changes and admission to a different subject selection than that made initially have to be processed through the Head of School.
Students would normally transition from Year 9 into 10 having successfully completed the requirements for Year 9. Some students are able to be admitted into Year 10 but this remains at the discretion of the Head of School. In some cases, an unsatisfactory performance or identification of a specific need to do so, a student can remain in Year 9 or be asked to repeat a year in Year 10. Should this happen it would be in consultation with teachers, informed by data and remains the prerogative of the Head of School in consultation with the Principal.
Whilst students at the end of Year 10 are encouraged to undergo screening conditions for admission into programs in Year 11 and 12 (either the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate or the IB DP) in most cases student choice is supported.
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB DP)
Although ISS has open admission to any one year level, admission to the IB DP in Year 11 is contingent on:
· assessment of past performance evidenced in data such as report grades and the IGCSE mock examination results.
· current students completing Form 1: Potential IB DP Students. Teachers sign off on suitability for SL / HL in any one subject and an overall program of study is approved by the IB Coordinator. The process is designed to initiate conversations about the program between staff and students.
· students attending relevant information evenings and mentor sessions
· some students requiring additional academic counseling (which may include parents / guardians) involve the Head of School or IB DP Coordinator and Counselor.
· students enrolling for the full Diploma.
· the school being able to support a student in a School Supported Self-Taught Language where relevant.
Continuance into the second year of the program is contingent on satisfactory performance in the first year, along with satisfying requirements for CAS, TOK and EE to the end of that year. Support is provided to students where needed to ensure that they are as successful as possible in the program. Student movement out of the program is with significant consultation and consideration of student needs.
The IB DP Coordinator will endeavor to work with all stakeholders to allow the student to be as successful as possible but should data and general performance and engagement of the student indicate that the IB DP is not the appropriate choice for the student, the Head of School reserves the right to move the student to another program or ask the student to take Certificates rather than the full Diploma. At such a time, all parties must be informed of the implications of the transfer.
Transfer into the program part way through the first year (for example in the case of a student transferring from the Northern Hemisphere) may be possible with consultation, but is dependant on subjects already chosen at the previous school and compatibility with subjects offered at ISS. Transfer into the program in the second year is not possible.
Australian Capital Territories Senior Secondary Certificate
All students who have completed the Year 10 program at ISS or (when transferring from another school) are age – appropriate at entry, can qualify for entry to the two year ACT Senior Secondary Certificate program. It is expected that students take a minimum of five subjects and a maximum of six in any one year in a program of study that meets the BSSS regulations for completion of a required course of study over the two years.
Current ISS students are expected to attend early information sessions and undergo academic counseling with the ACT Coordinator prior to entry to the program. Students doing T packages are expected to complete the Australian Scaling Test with a view to obtaining an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank). Usually a T-package is selected by students; however, the school reserves the right to modify a course based on need. In such cases a student may not sit the AST examination and therefore would not receive an ATAR score.
It is possible to enter the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate program in Year 12 and gain overseas recognition in subjects completed in Year 11 at other schools or within another program such as the first year of the IB DP, assuming that pre-requisites and Year 12 course availability satisfies completion requirements identified by the BSSS.
The course of study students are admitted to remains the final prerogative of the Head of School.
All students are expected to attempt to complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, either a Bronze or Silver (depending previous experience) in the two years.
The Diploma Programme: From Principles into Practice. IBO 2009 (reference pages 20-3)
Allied ISS Policy Documents
Special Educational Needs Policy