Students and ATARs to be individually assessed

Kate Withers

VCE students will be individually assessed this year and any adverse impacts of COVID-19 reflected in ATAR rankings, Premier Daniel Andrews announced last week.

The move forms part of a wide-ranging process to ensure fair and accurate results in an “unprecedented” year of school.

“For Victorian students in their final years of school, as well as their parents, carers, families and teachers – this has been a year like no other,” Mr Andrews said on Friday.

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) will introduce the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process to calculate VCE scores, taking into account disruptions to learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “This new process will mean the only thing impacted students need to focus on is their exams – and doing their best,” Mr Andrews said.

“In a normal year, individual students are assessed for special consideration on a case by case basis.

“This year, schools will provide the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) with information on every single one of their students.

The VCAA will consider a range of data alongside exam results, including a student’s expected achievement levels before the impact of coronavirus.

It will include school assessments completed prior to remote and flexible learning, the General Achievement Test (GAT) and a range of statistical analyses to calculate final results.

Additional criteria taken into account may include assessing the individual impact of coronavirus on each student, including school closures, direct impacts on the health of a student, students dealing with substantial extra family responsibilities, ongoing issues with remote learning and mental health challenges.

This will then be used to calculate a student’s final VCE results and ATAR rank.

To help students struggling with their mental health, the government will also provide $28.5 million to ensure students can receive more support.

More than 1500 school staff will undergo additional mental health training in partnership with headspace, to help identify at-risk students as remote learning continues.

All specialist schools with secondary-aged students will also receive funding to recruit a school-based mental health practitioner, who will build provide wrap-around support to students and families.

“The bottom line is that every student has been impacted in some way by this pandemic – the challenge is to make sure that it doesn’t decide their future,” Mr Andrews said.

“My message to VCE students is clear: you concentrate on doing your best, and we’ll take care of everything else.

“I know the very real stress and anxiety that many students and their parents are feeling.

“With this additional support, we’ll make sure every student at every age has the support to be their best.”