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HSC 2020 & COVID: Where does this leave us? (1 Viewer)

Trebla

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They may even force students, just seniors to come in to sit the exams and space the timing and placements out.
This is perhaps the most practical solution tbh - sitting the exams spread across different rooms across the school and even having them come in staggered groups of say 30 minutes apart allocated to a different room (with a different starting time). It can certainly work whilst still maintaining some integrity in the assessment.

I reckon parents might have a whinge about letting their kids outside like that though...
 

ewjfiwhelowaeoplg

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It could work, but it's a logistical nightmare and is an easy avenue for appeal. The advice is "do not go to school if you can", which is contradictory to forcing students to attend, even in the event of an exam. Especially given GCSEs, A-levels and other major exams are cancelled, I wouldn't expect something like this to be readily justifiable.

Note that I believe exams would be considered an "non-essential gathering". Hence, subject to the maximum 2 person rule. An essential gathering is sending students to school whose parents cannot look after them at home.

Then there's the question - if seniors can come in for exams why can't they be taught in similarily small groups in the classroom on regular school days?

A much simpler and less painful route for teachers is to adjust assessment weightings, so this is what I'd expect to happen.
 

Trebla

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It could work, but it's a logistical nightmare and is an easy avenue for appeal. The advice is "do not go to school if you can", which is contradictory to forcing students to attend, even in the event of an exam. Especially given GCSEs, A-levels and other major exams are cancelled, I wouldn't expect something like this to be readily justifiable.

Note that I believe exams would be considered an "non-essential gathering". Hence, subject to the maximum 2 person rule. An essential gathering is sending students to school whose parents cannot look after them at home.

Then there's the question - if seniors can come in for exams why can't they be taught in similarily small groups in the classroom on regular school days?

A much simpler and less painful route for teachers is to adjust assessment weightings, so this is what I'd expect to happen.
The adjustment of assessment weightings would be fine as a short term fix if this crisis is over by say July, because subsequent assessments can still occur afterwards with higher weightings. If it goes on any longer than that and crucial assessments such as trial exams cannot be held, NESA would either have to cancel/delay their external exams or ask the government for exemptions to get students to come in person (this would fall under 'leaving your home when it is necessary').
 

ewjfiwhelowaeoplg

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The adjustment of assessment weightings would be fine as a short term fix if this crisis is over by say July, because subsequent assessments can still occur afterwards with higher weightings. If it goes on any longer than that and crucial assessments such as trial exams cannot be held, NESA would either have to cancel/delay their external exams or ask the government for exemptions to get students to come in person (this would fall under 'leaving your home when it is necessary').
Even if crucial assessments e.g the trials cannot be held, wouldn't the adjustment of assessment weightings still work e.g term 4 assessment to 50%, term 1 assessment to 50%? Otherwise, NESA could just put more weight on the external exams (e.g 70% instead of 50%)

Considering that the HSC exams are already quite late, and modelling predicts easing of restrictions in the October to December region coinciding with higher summer temperatures which may significantly reduce the infectivity, delaying the HSC exams might be a suitable strategy, with a potentially increased weighting when compared with school assessments.

However, if the crisis lasts even longer, would governmental exemption override parental decisions to keep their children home? I.e would a student have to agree for such an exemption to be granted? In such a case, students can just refuse to consent to such an exemption for health reasons, which is problematic.
 

Trebla

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Even if crucial assessments e.g the trials cannot be held, wouldn't the adjustment of assessment weightings still work e.g term 4 assessment to 50%, term 1 assessment to 50%? Otherwise, NESA could just put more weight on the external exams (e.g 70% instead of 50%)

Considering that the HSC exams are already quite late, and modelling predicts easing of restrictions in the October to December region coinciding with higher summer temperatures which may significantly reduce the infectivity, delaying the HSC exams might be a suitable strategy, with a potentially increased weighting when compared with school assessments.

However, if the crisis lasts even longer, would governmental exemption override parental decisions to keep their children home? I.e would a student have to agree for such an exemption to be granted? In such a case, students can just refuse to consent to such an exemption for health reasons, which is problematic.
For most schools only the term 4 assessment has taken place. It would not be fair down the track if it turns out that no other assessments (like trial exams) can take place at all and therefore that one term 4 assessment is retrospectively re-weighted to 100% (it's a similar argument against using Year 11 marks). Perhaps they can do mostly take-home assignments or open-book online exams in addition to this, but this of course has its own issues of assessment integrity (especially if it makes up the bulk of the student's marks) and is not exactly compatible with some subjects like Maths.

Also, I am not sure NESA would have the appetite to put more than 50% weighting on a single external exam. There is already enough public negativity on the HSC being hugely dependent on a single exam. Expect a backlash if they decide to increase the weighting of the external exams.

Regarding the exemptions if this crisis lingers on for the whole year, that is of course going to be a more complex issue NESA has to figure out. For example, they could require students to plead their case for special considerations, especially if NESA have actively taken every measure (in terms of hygiene and distancing) to make sure it is safe to hold the exams. This would dis-incentivise the majority parents from keeping students at home for exams. Any parents who do go down that special consideration route would be in the minority and dealt with on a case-by-case basis. It's not too different to when QLD still had their council elections last weekend and were still prepared to fine people who didn't vote, or a scenario where people have to still go to work when it is not possible to work from home.

The only time it may be 'reasonable' to call off the external HSC exams is if there are many fairly conducted internal assessments taking place so that it can be used as a reasonable substitute (but of course this is frought with issues in trying to standardise everything using teacher 'judgement').
 

ewjfiwhelowaeoplg

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In my opinion, barring NESA adjusting the external exam weighting which is problematic as you note, the next most fair option is to retrospectively reweigh the term 4 exam to 100%, if no other exams can take place (at least for maths and sciences). This is very different to including year 11 marks, as we are told that under no circumstances will preliminary marks count i.e someone who chose to study less in year 11 would be substantially disadvantaged at no fault of their own; whilst students are under full knowledge that their term 4 task will count 25-30%, and thus are under the expectation to have studied substantially already.

The reweighing of the term 4 exam would be fair as long as (a) it is an exam and (b) it follows and has achieved necessary exam-making principles, including
  • Sufficient testing range i.e the test is long enough (for maths and sciences, optimially more than 60 marks worth of questions) and spreads the entire difficulty range corresponding to students' ability
  • Appropriate spread of marks i.e ~50% mean with a wide distribution
  • High point biserial for most questions
For the sciences and maths, assignments would not be suitable as replacement tasks because they are generally not able to achieve more than one of the criteria above. For example, one would struggle to create a math assignment that has a wide distribution of marks that accurately affects students' math ability, given the technological resources and group-sharing enabled in recent times. In fact, should such replacement assignments comprise the large proportion of a school's internal mark (e.g 75%), it may compromise the data given by the one exam that has taken place.

I agree with you and do see NESA holding final exams in the place of restrictions, especially by the time we are starting to come out of them. I don't think similar exceptions can be said about school internal exams though.
 

NG43

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This is perhaps the most practical solution tbh - sitting the exams spread across different rooms across the school and even having them come in staggered groups of say 30 minutes apart allocated to a different room (with a different starting time). It can certainly work whilst still maintaining some integrity in the assessment.

I reckon parents might have a whinge about letting their kids outside like that though...
I reckon parents will whine about anything these days. Just going for a second of fame or playing the typical '21st Century Helicopter Parent.'
 

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