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How Are Grades Awarded in the NSW Curriculum?

The system of awarding grades in the New South Wales curriculum is open and balanced. It is based on a scale that runs from A to E. Teachers make objective and impartial decisions on the achievements and progress of students and award the grades accordingly.

How It Works

The grade awarded describes the student’s scholastic ability and the progress made in understanding the subject in question. Grade A is the highest grade awarded to students who have done exceptionally well while grade E is given to those who have only a poor knowledge and understanding of the subject. It is important to note that while these grades form the basis of evaluation, other factors such as the teachers’ comments about the student, interviews between the parents, student and teacher and inputs derived from other communication channels also play a part in determining the overall progress and achievement of the student.

What the Grades Mean

  • Grade A: The student has a strong, extensive and detailed understanding of the subject and is able to apply this knowledge in a practical and result-oriented manner. Additionally, the student has developed skills that can be applied in new situations and circumstances.
  • Grade B: The student has a thorough understanding of the subject matter and is able to use this knowledge in a competent manner. The student is able to apply the knowledge in many, but perhaps not all, relevant situations.
  • Grade C: The student has a good grasp of the main concepts of the subject and is able to use the knowledge in a competent manner. The ability to apply the knowledge constructively is adequate but may be limited in some areas.
  • Grade D: The student has only basic knowledge and understanding of the subject. The ability to translate this knowledge into skill to apply it effectively is limited as is the level of competency.
  • Grade E: The student has only a very elementary knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to translate the knowledge into practical applications, skills and processes is very limited.

How Grades Are Awarded

Awarding grades demands that teachers use what is known as on-balance judgment. This demands that the student be evaluated not only on the basis of a single or just a few pieces of work or test results. Teachers are required to use all the information available about the student up until the time of evaluation to determine the right grade to be given. This ensures that students who are at the beginning of the learning cycle of a specific subject or process are not given a low grade because their understanding is both new and basic. There are a number of intricacies and often difficult to appreciate parameters that go into the evaluation of a student and the grades given. To do well in the NSW curriculum, a student must understand not only the basis on which the grades are awarded but also how to work within the curriculum to maximize the scoring and grades awarded. An understanding of these issues, besides knowing the curriculum in detail, before going to Australia will give students a major performance advantage and head start on getting the grades they desire.
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