Every year, the UAC publishes scaling statistics. If you haven’t already done so, you should read about how HSC scaling works. The UAC publishes the scaled means of each subject in the form of Table A3 and provide useful information regarding the way in which subjects are scaled relative to each other for the academic year.
Let’s take a look at a few scaling statistics facts:
- Previously, Mathematics Extension 2 was the highest scaled mainstream subject
- Occasionally some language subjects have scaled higher
- Mathematics Extension 1 scales a lot better than English Extension 2
- When it comes to the 3 sciences, Chemistry scales highest, followed by Physics and then Biology
- English Advanced and Economics scale relatively similarly to Chemistry and Physics
- The scaling of English subjects has been a source of controversy and myths for some time. Some educators have felt that learners will be disadvantaged with ATAR if they study English Standard as opposed to English Advanced. But there is little merit behind this perception.
Aligning Raw Examination Marks to the Standards-based Reporting Scale
For the past 11 years student’s achievements in an HSC course have been reported annually in relation to the same set of standards. Therefore, marks reported to students for a course in varying years can be compared. It is also possible to judge the relative performances of different groups of students over time.
Since students sit for different exam papers with different guidelines for marking every year, a method is used to allow the raw examination marks to be given by aligning them to the standards and reporting scale that the Board of Studies uses.
Teams of judges (teachers who have been specially trained) follow a laborious, multi-stage procedure to decipher which raw exam mark they believe corresponds to the borderline between each of the standards every year. The standards are known as “performance bands.”
The judges use the standard packages published by the Board of Studies to develop a good understanding of the skills, understanding and knowledge that the students who are at the borderlines between the performance bands have.
The judges begin the procedure by working independently and then together to come up with the marks that they think students at each borderline will obtain for each question on the year’s exam. The judges will look at statistical reports and samples of student responses to refine their decisions.
Then each judge’s borderline cut-off marks for every question are tallied to produce their recommendation for the borderline cut-off mark. The average of the cut-off marks from every member then becomes the recommended borderline cut-off mark.
Information such as the previous year’s borderline cut-off mark and other statistical data is withheld from the judges to help them arrive at the best possible outcomes.
Once the cut-off marks are submitted, the HSC Consultative Committee does a thorough review of each team’s work and application procedure. They will then determine the final borderline cut-off marks that will be used. A simple mathematical process is used to align the raw examination marks to the reporting scale:
The mark that is the borderline between Band 5 and Band 6 is adjusted to 90,
the mark that is the borderline between Band 4 and Band 5 is adjusted to 80,
the mark that is the borderline between Band 3 and Band 4 is adjusted to 70,
the mark that is the borderline between Band 2 and Band 3 is adjusted to 60,
the mark that is the borderline between Band 1 and Band 2 is adjusted to 50.
A mark of 100 stays at 100 and a mark of 0 stays at 0.
From this technique it is evident that 90 is the lowest mark that can be received at Band 6 so students who receive a score on or above the borderline between Bands 5 and 6 will receive an examination mark between 90 and 100.
Students who receive one of the higher marks therefore have a stronger grasp of skills and knowledge required to be in that band.
Aligning Moderated Assessment Marks to the Standards-Based Reporting Scale
Once raw marks have been aligned to the reporting scale, the same adjustments are made to the moderated assessment marks. The borderlines from the examination can be applied to the moderated school assessment marks as both sets of marks are in the same currency.
Therefore the assessment marks reported to learners for each course are related to the same set of standards established for the exam marks in that course.
The HSC mark for each course is reported alongside the examination and assessment marks. It is the HSC mark that determines the performance band a student will be awarded for each course.