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Assessment Certification Examination (ACE)
NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)

Assessment at the end of a Stage 5 course – grading student achievement

ACE 4021

Last Updated: 5 April 2022

This rule is affected by changes made to RoSA and HSC rules and requirements in 2022.

Find these amendments in our COVID Changes for 2022.

Assessing student achievement is the process of collecting information on student performance in relation to the objectives and outcomes of a course.

Grading student achievement is the process of assigning a letter (A, B, C, D, E) to summarise the level of a student’s achievement in a course. In Mathematics, grades have been further differentiated to nine levels (A10, A9, B8, B7, C6, C5, D4, D3, E2).

The grade awarded to each student at the completion of a Stage 5 course should indicate the student’s overall achievement in relation to the Course Performance Descriptors (for Board Developed Courses) or the Common Grade Scale (for School Developed Board Endorsed Courses and Content Endorsed Courses). Assessment in a course should relate to the stated objectives and outcomes as described in the syllabus.

No specific allocation of marks is required for any syllabus objectives or outcomes.

The grades awarded should reflect the relative emphasis placed on the assessable objectives of school programs and the syllabus. For example, where a school has placed considerable emphasis on the development of research skills, that emphasis should be reflected in the assessment program. For the purpose of awarding grades, assessment of values and attitudes must not be included.

Students with disability needs may require adjustments to assessment activities to enable access to the task and equitable opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do. Providing an adjustment does not restrict a student’s access to the full range of grades.

The NESA grading system is intended to describe the student’s achievement at the end of each course in Stage 5. Teachers will make the final judgement of the grade deserved on the basis of available assessment information and with reference to the course performance descriptors and other material produced by NESA to support the consistent awarding of grades. In applying these descriptors, teachers should interpret them in terms of standards that can be achieved by Stage 5 students within the bounds of the course.

Earlier performance in a course should be used only as a means of increasing the accuracy of the final assessment. The choice of a particular grade should be made on the basis that it provides the best overall description of the student’s achievement of the Stage 5 syllabus outcomes. This applies regardless of whether the student has studied a 100-hour or a 200-hour course.

The same Course Performance Descriptors or Common Grade Scale apply to 100-hour and 200-hour courses. This relates to courses studied across Years 9 and 10, and to courses studied exclusively in either Year 9 or Year 10.

Students should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their maximum level of achievement relative to the course performance descriptors.

Schools are required to retain samples of student work and corresponding assessment tasks in Stage 5 courses specified each year by the NESA. The samples retained should be work completed towards the end of Stage 5 and at various points in the distribution of A to E grades. Schools should consult the NESA website for further information on retaining student work samples. 

Where a school wishes to assign an ‘N’ for a student’s achievement in a Board Developed Course, a Grade A to E should still be submitted so that, if the student appeals successfully to NESA, the grade can be reinstated.

Students undertaking a course based on Life Skills outcomes and content are not allocated a grade in that course.

Students undertaking a Stage 5 VET course are not allocated a grade in that course.