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.