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Could We Be Better Prepared?

Found in: Leadership Blog

Last week was the first official ‘exam week’ at the College when all Year 11 students undertook their first exams towards achieving their WACE (Western Australian Certificate of Education) in 2017.

We were proud of the way students conducted themselves in the formal exam process and the respect they had for each other. In some instances there was more than one exam being conducted in the room – which is normal practice – with different finishing times. There were also students with diagnosed learning disabilities who are entitled to additional time. This meant that in some exam sessions, there were up to four finishing times, with students leaving the room while their peers continued working. Students were mindful of the need for minimum fuss or noise as they left the room and were able to empathise with students who remained working.

Some students arrived late to exams which was disappointing for them as they were not given additional time but were required to start when they arrived and finish when all students did. Some students did not turn up for some exams. We will follow up on this now that the week is over, to determine reasons and how they might be avoided at the end of the year. As per our policy, they were not permitted to sit for these exams at a later time unless they had notified the school by 9.30am of the exam day.

We were proud of our staff who worked very hard – and often went that ‘extra mile’ as they often do – to ensure students had covered the appropriate work required for exams and tasks. Getting the timing right can often be tricky when taking excursions and public holidays into account.

A story was related to me from one student that believed they could have been ‘better prepared’ for their exams. In probing this further to determine whether the College could have done more (which would have surprised me greatly) it didn’t take long to discover that the student was unprepared because they hadn’t done sufficient preparation themselves, at home.

We are very aware of the ‘jump’ in responsibility and self-management required from students as they transition from Year 10 into Year 11 and WACE. It is for this reason that the following procedures and process were put in place to support students to make this transition smoothly:

  • A significant raising of standards across all of MCC over the past 2-3 years, in particular with respect to standards expected in assessment;
  • A Year 10 ‘exam week’ for students last year when students were given double-period tests in subjects under exam conditions;
  • Supporting students to gradually reduce their reliance on teachers concerning submission of assessment tasks, over the Years 8 – 11;
  • Double-period assessment tasks during first semester this year;
  • Teachers pressing the need for ‘at home’ study and preparation, including advice and information about how in their subjects;
  • “Information for students” about exam protocol and procedure, distributed by PC teachers two weeks ago and discussed in depth; and, most importantly
  • Sound and expert teaching of content and skills required throughout the semester.

Just a last comment regarding the final point above, at the start of the year we had to submit all programs and some assessment tasks to SCSA (School Curriculum and Standards Authority) for thorough examination and feedback. We came through this process with flying colours.

We are confident that we fulfilled our obligations to students in preparing them well for exams and tasks undertaken during exam week. There is however, likely to be much room for improvement in the amount of preparation students themselves are undertaking at home, which is out of our control. As per our homework policy, by Year 11, students should be spending about four hours of study and homework per night; preferably two hours before tea and two hours after tea. This is generally what is required for successful achievement of a WACE. We seek your support in this regard as we each uphold our end of the partnership in regard to the education of your children.

Dr Thelma Perso
Director of Teaching and Learning