Board of Senior Secondary Studies

ACT BOARD OF SENIOR SECONDARY STUDIES ANNUAL REPORT 2015-16

SECTION A. TRANSMITTAL CERTIFICATE

Board of Senior Secondary Studies banner


Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA
Minister for Education
ACT Legislative Assembly
London Circuit
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Dear Minister

I am pleased to submit the Annual Report of the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies for the year ending 30 June 2016.

This Report has been prepared under section 6(1) of the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 2004 and in accordance with the requirements under the Annual Report Directions.

It has been prepared in conformity with other legislation applicable to the preparation of the Annual Report by the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies.

I certify that the attached Annual Report is an honest and accurate account and that all material information on the operations of the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies during the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 has been included and that it complies with the Chief Minister's Annual Report Directions.

I hereby certify that fraud prevention has been managed in accordance with Public Sector Management Standards, Part 2.

The Annual Report of the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies is annexed to the administrative report of the Director-General of the Education and Training Directorate.

I commend the Annual Report to you.

Yours sincerely

signature of Rosemary Follett AO

Rosemary Follett AO
Chair
12 July 2016


Lyons Education Centre, 67 Launceston Street LYONS ACT 2606 GPO Box 158 CANBERRA ACT 2601 Ph: 6205 7181 Fax: 6205 7167

SECTION B: PERFORMANCE REPORTING

B.1 ORGANISATIONAL OVERVIEW

The Board of Senior Secondary Studies (the Board) was established in 1991 and the Board of Senior Secondary Studies Act 1997 (the BSSS Act) was enacted in January 1998.

The key functions of the Board are to:

  • provide students with ACT Senior Secondary Certificates, Tertiary Entrance Statements and vocational certificates;
  • maintain the credibility and acceptance of courses through a regular accreditation program;
  • monitor and support the validity of assessment in years 11 and 12;
  • improve the comparability of standards across ACT and overseas schools through moderation procedures;
  • gain the widest possible recognition for the credentials awarded by the Board; and
  • service the information needs of the community.

The Board is committed to:

  • a general education of high standards providing equal opportunity for all students to the end of year 12;
  • choice of courses for students supported by expert advice;
  • senior secondary college responsibility for course development;
  • senior secondary college responsibility for the assessment of its students;
  • shared responsibility for education; and
  • open access to information.

Twenty five ACT colleges and seven schools located in Fiji, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are delivering courses certificated by the Board. These schools are listed in Appendix C.  Students from Kimbe International School, Kimbe, New Britain, Papua New Guinea received ACT Senior Secondary Certificates for the first time in December 2015. Students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart International School, Kavieng, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea will receive ACT Senior Secondary Certificates for the first time in December 2016.

The Board’s goal is to provide a high quality curriculum, assessment and certification system that supports:

  • all young adults to achieve an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate or equivalent vocational qualification;
  • high levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy;
  • improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged students; and
  • effective transitions from school to post-school pathways.

In 2013 the Board developed a new strategic plan to guide its activities for the period 2014-2016. The key focus areas for the Board are:

  • an informed and effective response to international, national and local initiatives; and
  • a high quality, high equity curriculum, assessment and certification system that caters for all students.

Four amendments were made to the BSSS Act 1997 in August 2015.

  • Specific mention of the delivery of BSSS curriculum, assessment and certification services to overseas school was included.
  • Board membership was increased to include a nominee from the ACT Campus of the Australian Catholic University.
  • Provision was made for proxy voting by Board members.
  • The Act was amended in relation to the business and industry nominee. This was necessary because of the merger of the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the Canberra Business Council.

During 2015-16, the Board continued to provide advice to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on the senior years’ Australian Curriculum and to discuss with ACARA implementation of the Australian Curriculum in the ACT. The Board commenced a trial implementation of ACT year 11-12 courses embedding the Australian Curriculum from the beginning of 2014 and commenced full implementation from the beginning of 2016. The ACT is one of three jurisdictions to have commenced delivery of year 11-12 courses embedding the Australian Curriculum. The others are South Australia and Western Australia. In 2016, the Office of the Board has been assisting Tasmania with its planned implementation of the Australian Curriculum.

Full implementation of the ESL and Geography courses integrating the Australian Curriculum will occur in 2017.

The Board commenced a Review of Senior Secondary Curriculum in 2015 and appointed a committee to investigate a range of key issues including a vision statement, design specifications for courses, organisation of course frameworks and the purpose and scope of registered units. The committee delivered its recommendations to the Board in October 2015. The recommendations included:

  • vision and principles for ACT Senior Secondary curriculum;
  • revision of policy and procedures for Registered units;
  • ACT BSSS senior secondary courses design specifications alignment with ACARA senior secondary course design specifications;
  • reduction in multiple courses in a subject area;
  • revision of the course development cycle;
  • lead college role and responsibilities for development of courses;
  • organisation of course frameworks; and
  • relationship between course frameworks and course areas.

In August 2014, the Review of Certification committee recommended to the Board that the Assessment and Certification Committee (ACC) explore online, adaptive literacy and numeracy testing developed with a view to:

  1. implementing online, adaptive literacy and numeracy testing in the ACT for years 10 to 12;
  2. deciding on how and to what extent students’ literacy and numeracy attainment could be reported on the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate; and
  3. determining how students who do not meet the requisite level of literacy/numeracy can gain the necessary support to do so.

The Board approved the recommendation and the investigation is ongoing. Negotiations were held throughout 2015 with the Western Australian School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) resulting in two ACT trials of the SCSA’s Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA) tool. In November 2015, year 10 students from four schools across the three sectors participated in the OLNA Reading, Numeracy and Writing tasks. The trial provided valuable information to the schools and to the students on literacy and numeracy standards including detailed diagnostics on those students who fell below the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) level 3 in literacy and/or numeracy. The trial also provided an indication of the technological capabilities of the individual schools in relation to online testing.

In 2016, a more extensive trial was conducted with year 10 and year 11 students across eleven schools sitting the Reading and Numeracy components of the OLNA. This extended trial provided insights into the issues associated with rolling out the test on a larger scale and once again gave the schools valuable data on students’ literacy and numeracy levels.

In 2016, the Office of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies (OBSSS) organised a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the ACT Senior Secondary System. In 1976, the ACT commenced delivery of its own senior secondary certificate. The report Secondary Schools for Canberra provided the blue print for the new system with its recommendation to replace external exams by continuous assessment where results were moderated using a system wide scaling test. Another key recommendation was the introduction of senior secondary colleges in the public sector. The OBSSS took the lead in celebrating this milestone with current and past members of the ACT education community.

The reunion was held at the Canberra College Performing Arts centre in April and attended by well over 100 significant contributors to the system, past and present, including the Minister for Education. The centrepiece of the evening was presentations from three of the pioneers who recounted tales of the early days framed by a backdrop slide presentation of photographs contributed by schools.

The presenters were:

  • Professor Richard Campbell – Chair, Secondary Schools for Canberra, Report 1974; Chair ACT Schools Authority 1979-1985;
  • Ms Julia Ryan – President Canberra District Historical Society; Foundation Teacher, School without Walls; and
  • Dr Mick March – Foundation Principal, Narrabundah College.

Three of the four public college foundation principals were able to attend. This event enabled current educators to connect with individuals who played a role in the formation of the ACT Senior Secondary system. Moreover, the event created a platform for imagining the future.

Processing of year 12 results occurred on schedule and certificates were issued to ACT colleges on Tuesday 15 December 2015 for distribution to students. Over 9,900 certificates were produced by the Board for students in year 12 and over 1,300 vocational qualifications were issued for students in year 10.

Key focus areas over the next year will include the ongoing implementation of courses embedding the Australian Curriculum, the implementation of recommendations coming from the Review of Curriculum, the continuing investigation of online literacy and numeracy testing, and the upgrading of the moderation database within the BSSS certification database.

Photo of the Board Chair, Rosemary Follett, and the Minister for Education, Shane Rattenbury, cutting the cake at the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies 40th birthday celebrations.

INTERNAL ACCOUNTABILITY

Board membership

The BSSS Act (s8) creates a board with a broad membership of 15 from the many stakeholders in senior secondary education. Members, other than the Director-General of the Education Directorate, are appointed by the Minister for Education for a period of up to three years. Members can be reappointed if they are eligible. One new member was appointed to the Board and three members were reappointed in February 2016.

Nominees from the following four organisations have been submitted to the Minister for appointment:

  • Canberra Institute of Technology nominee appointed from 2014-2016 resigned in December 2015;
  • Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools appointed from 2014-2016 resigned in October 2015;
  • Australian Catholic University, addition to the BSSS Act; and
  • Business and Industry organisations’ representative in the ACT, rewording to the BSSS Act.

Remuneration for Board members

The Chair is the only member eligible to receive remuneration, at a rate determined by the ACT Remuneration Tribunal.

Ethical standards

Prior to appointment, Board members are provided with the Bowen Code of Conduct as a guide to ethical behaviour. Members sign a declaration that they have read and agree to observe the principles of the code, and agree to disclose all conflicts of interest that arise during their term on the Board. The Board meeting agenda has declaration of conflicts of interests as a standing item. ACT public servants on the Board are also bound by the ACT Public Sector Management Act 1994.

TABLE BSSS 1: BOARD MEMBERSHIP AS AT 1 JULY 2015

MemberAffiliation Initial appointment Appointment expires Meetings attended July-Dec 2015
Ms Rosemary Follett AO Chair 1 January 2012 31 December 2017 3/3
Ms Sue Maslen Canberra Institute of Technology 11 April 2014 31 December 2016 2/3
Ms Louise Mayo Vocational education and training organisations 17 May 2011 31 December 2016 1/3
Professor Royston Gustavson Australian National University 31 July 2015 31 December 2017 2/3
Professor Robert Fitzgerald University of Canberra 1 January 2013 31 December 2015 3/3
Ms Rita Daniels Association of Independent Schools 25 June 2009 31 December 2017 2/3
Mr Stewart Clode ACT Branch, Australian Education Union 31 July 2015 31 December 2017 3/3
Mr Angus Tulley Catholic Education Commission 1 January 2013 31 December 2018 3/3
Mrs Kerrie Grundy ACT Principals’ Association 19 November 2013 31 December 2018 1/3
Mr Hugh Boulter ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations 1 January 2013 31 December 2015 3/3
Ms Julie Sengelman Association of Parents & Friends of ACT Schools 11 April 2014 31 December 2016 1/3
TBA Business and Industry organisations’ representative in the ACT    0/3
Ms Judy van Rijswijk ACT Trades and Labour Council 1 January 2013 31 December 2018 3/3
Ms Leanne Wright Delegate of the Director– General, Education Directorate July 2012 October 2015 1/3

The Board has six scheduled meetings each calendar year. The Board met on three occasions from July-December 2015.

TABLE BSSS 2: BOARD MEMBERSHIP AS AT 30 JUNE 2016

MemberAffiliationInitial Appointment expires Meetings attended July-Dec 2015
Ms Rosemary Follett AO Chair 1 January 2012 31 December 2017 3/3
TBA Canberra Institute of Technology    0/3
Ms Louise Mayo Vocational education and training organisations 17 May 2011 31 December 2016 2/3
Professor Royston Gustavson Australian National University 31 July 2015 31 December 2017 2/3
Professor Nick Klomp University of Canberra 17 February 2016 31 December 2018 2/3
Ms Rita Daniels Association of Independent Schools 25 June 2009 31 December 2017 2/3
Mr Stewart Clode ACT Branch, Australian Education Union 31 July 2015 31 December 2017 2/3
Mr Angus Tulley Catholic Education Commission 1 January 2013 31 December 2018 3/3
Mrs Kerrie Grundy ACT Principals’ Association 19 November 2013 31 December 2018 3/3
TBA ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations    0/3
TBA Association of Parents & Friends of ACT Schools    0/3
TBA Business and Industry representative organisations in the ACT    0/3
Ms Judy van Rijswijk ACT Trades and Labour Council 1 January 2013 31 December 2018 3/3
TBA ACT Campus, Australian Catholic University    0/3
Mrs Tracy Stewart Delegate of the Director-General, Education Directorate October 2015 Ongoing 2/3

The above Board has met on three occasions from January to June 2016.

Standing Committees

The Board appoints committees and panels to provide advice on specific matters. The main standing committees and their roles are listed below. Membership of these committees in 2015 and 2016 is included in Appendix B.

TABLE BSSS 3: BOARD STANDING COMMITTEES AND THEIR ROLES

CommitteeRole
Curriculum Advisory Committee To advise the Board on national and ACT curriculum matters and overall direction of curriculum in years 11 and 12.
Assessment and Certification Committee To advise the Board on assessment and certification policies and procedures, and the overall direction of assessment and certification in years 11 and 12.
Vocational Education and Training Committee To advise the Board on vocational education and training issues, particularly those relating to national agreements and post-school linkages with the VET sector; and to provide advice on VET initiatives for secondary education.
Accreditation Panels To advise the Board on the accreditation and registration of year 11-12 courses, which have been developed by teachers, industry and business groups, tertiary institutions and other organisations.

Board Secretariat

The Board secretariat is managed by the Director of the Board and consists of 10 other staff; six teachers and four administrative officers, all employed through the Directorate. The Director reports to the Board on its legislated functions and to the Directorate on ministerial, financial, audit, human resource and other corporate functions.

B.2 PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS

An informed and effective response to international, national and local initiatives

The Board has continued to provide and facilitate ACT feedback on national curriculum and reporting initiatives through formal responses, teacher participation in curriculum development and surveys, consultation and membership of national working parties. The Board has made contributions to the Consultation on the Transparency of Higher Education Admissions Processes, the Review of VET in Public Colleges, the Review of the Interstate Transfer Index (ITI), the Review of the NSW/ACT meshing processes for the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), the National Education Evidence Base Issues Paper, the national International Baccalaureate/ATAR conversion process and the Commonwealth Government’s Work Readiness Research Project.

In 2015, the Office of the Board (OBSSS) assumed responsibility for the leadership for the Australasian Curriculum and Certification Authorities (ACACA) when the Director was appointed as the Chair of ACACA and the Technical Advisor assumed responsibility for secretariat services to ACACA. ACACA is a high level forum composed of the Chief Executives of Australian and New Zealand Boards of Studies, the Chief Executive of ACARA and a representative from the Commonwealth Department of Education.

The Board continued to support the H courses delivered under the Australian National University (ANU) Extension Program. In 2015, 121 students (61 females, 60 males) from 17 colleges completed an H course through the Australian National University Extension Program. Seventy six students (63%) used their scaled H course score in their ATAR calculation. Graduates from the Extension Program included those in the recently introduced courses in astrophysics, engineering and music.

A high quality, high equity curriculum, assessment and certification system that caters for all students

In 2015-16, course frameworks in Commerce, Behavioural Science, Politics & Law and Integrated Learning have been endorsed by the Board. Nineteen courses were approved for delivery to year 11-12 students from 2016 and 22 teams are currently developing courses for implementation from 2017. These courses are reviewed by expert panels of teachers, representatives from tertiary institutions, industry and the community. A list of the panels that met to consider courses in 2015-16 is included in
Appendix B.

The Board has continued its focus on the enhancement of assessment in colleges. Feedback on the quality and effectiveness of school-based assessment and consistency in the application of grade achievement standards has continued to be provided to colleges through system wide moderation. Over 1,000 senior secondary teachers from the ACT and overseas participated in each of the Moderation days in August 2015 and March 2016.

Year 12 outcomes 2015

In 2015, 4,701 students met the requirements for an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate. This included 4,407 students enrolled in ACT colleges, including CIT Pathways College, and 178 students enrolled in overseas colleges. In the ACT, this represented 90.5 percent of year 12 students compared with 91.5 percent in 2014. There was a decrease in the percentage of females achieving a Senior Secondary Certificate from 2014 to 2015 and an increase in the percentage of males.

Of the Senior Secondary Certificate receivers 2,933 students also achieved a Tertiary Entrance Statement (TES), having met the requirements for university entrance and calculation of an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). This included 2,781 students enrolled in ACT colleges and 152 students enrolled in overseas colleges.

One hundred and twenty one students (61 females, 60 males) from 17 colleges completed an H course through the ANU Secondary College Program in 2015. Of these students, 10 completed a course in Mathematics, 9 in Physics, 7 in Astrophysics, 29 in Chemistry, 19 in Conservation Biology, 28 in Japanese, 1 in Chinese, 4 in Indonesian, 3 in Music and 11 in Engineering. Seventy six students (63 percent) used their scaled H course score in their ATAR calculation.

To achieve an ACT Senior Secondary Certificate, students are required to study a minimum of 17 standard units, which form at least four accredited courses from three different course areas. However, it is pleasing to see that a large majority of students are studying more than the minimum number of units across a broader range of course areas. In 2015, 76.5 percent of Senior Secondary Certificate receivers (Standard Package) completed 20 or more standard units and 74.2 percent of Senior Secondary Certificate receivers completed five or more accredited courses from different course areas. These percentages are similar to those in 2014.

Figure BSSS 1 displays the percentage of Senior Secondary Certificate receivers achieving a TES from 2001 to 2015. In 2015, 62.3 percent of ACT students receiving a Senior Secondary Certificate also received a TES. This is lower than in 2014 when it was 63.6%.

FIGURE BSSS 1: PERCENTAGE OF ACT SENIOR SECONDARY CERTIFICATE RECEIVERS WHO ACHIEVED A TERTIARY ENTRANCE STATEMENT 2001 - 2015

Figure showing the percentage of ACT Senior Secondary Certificate receivers who achieved a Tertiary Entrance Statement, for the period 1999 to 2015.

Source: ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies
Note: From 2006 students classified as Mature Age are included in the data.

FIGURE BSSS 2: ILLUSTRATES THE RANGE OF ATARS ACROSS COLLEGES FOR 2015.

Figure showing the range of ATARS (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank), across all ACT colleges, 2015.

Source: ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies
Note:

  1. The names of the colleges are listed in Appendix C.
  2. The central line in the box represents the median ATAR.
  3. The block indicates the spread of 50 percent of the scores.
  4. The single vertical line indicates the spread of the next 15 percent of scores.
  5. Circles represent individual results in the top and bottom ten percent of ATARs.

The horizontal lines show an ATAR of 80 (green) and an ATAR of 65 (Red).

Of students in the ACT who achieved an ATAR, 74% achieved an ATAR of 65 or more.

The following table gives the percentage of Senior Secondary Certificate and TES receivers who completed an accredited course in the nominated areas.

TABLE BSSS 4: SELECTED COURSES ON SENIOR SECONDARY CERTIFICATES AND TERTIARY ENTRANCE STATEMENTS, 2014 AND 2015

Course Area Percentage of ACT Senior Secondary Certificate receivers who completed a course in the area Percentage of ACT TES receivers who completed a course in the area
Age Group 2015 2014 2015 2014
English/English as a second language (ESL) 97.1 96.9 99.6 99.7
Mathematics 91.8 91.3 94.6 94.4
Information Technology 9.7 10.1 10.3 10.9
Sciences 43.1 43.5 56.5 57.2
History 16.3 16.5 19.8 20.0
Languages 15.0 15.9 20.6 21.7

Source: ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies

Whilst the minimum number of courses from different course areas required for an ACT Tertiary Entrance Statement is two T and/or H courses, 63.9 percent of ACT students used scaled course scores from four different course areas in the calculation of their ATAR. This is an increase of 0.1 percent from the 2014 cohort.

There were no compulsory courses for the 2015 graduating cohort in the ACT; however, the above data shows that 97.1 percent of ACT Senior Secondary Certificate receivers and 99.6 percent of TES receivers completed a course in English/ESL, and 91.8 percent of ACT Senior Secondary Certificate receivers and 94.6 percent of TES receivers completed a course in Mathematics. All students in the graduating cohort of 2016 will be required to have completed a course from the English framework.

The Board recognises on a student’s Senior Secondary Certificate the contribution of learning undertaken outside the college environment during years 11 and 12. In 2015, 1,138 students received such recognition under Recreational Activities, 1,011 students received recognition under Community Involvement and 215 students received recognition under Recognition of Outside Learning.

The Board issues vocational certificates to years 10 and 12 students who have completed vocational qualifications through colleges as Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). In 2015, this included 556 year 10 students and 1,105 year 12 students. Of these students, 32 completed an Australian School-based Apprenticeship with their college as the RTO.

The following figure displays the number of students receiving Vocational certificates issued by the Board for each RTO by year level in 2015. It should be noted that students may have received more than one vocational certificate.

FIGURE BSSS 3: NUMBER OF STUDENTS RECEIVING VOCATIONAL CERTIFICATES, 2015 BY COLLEGE AND YEAR LEVEL

Figure showing the number of students receiving vocational certificates, by college and year level, 2015.

Photo of the award recipients from all ACT Senior Secondary Colleges at the BSSS Year 12 Recognition of Excellence Awards

In addition to vocational studies undertaken during years 11 and 12 in colleges, vocational programs undertaken with external RTOs can contribute to the requirements for year 12 certification and be included on the ACT Senior Secondary Certificate. In 2015, vocational qualifications achieved through an external RTO and registered by the Board were recognised on the Senior Secondary Certificate as an E course. In 2015, eight students were awarded an E course. The E courses were in the areas of Business, Hair & Beauty and Hospitality.

In 2015:

  • 448 year 12 students achieved a vocational qualification through an external RTO, which was recognised on their Senior Secondary Certificate; and
  • this is an increase compared to 2014 of 82 students.

Students may receive recognition for more than one vocational qualification completed with external RTOs.

For more information contact:
The Director Board of Senior Secondary Studies
GPO Box 158 CANBERRA ACT 2601
(02) 620 57181
bsss.enquiries@act.gov.au
http://www.bsss.act.edu.au external link

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