Due to recent stories in the media about unscored VCE programs we have had a spate of inquiries from students and parents about this as an option for year 12. With the course selection process coming up in term 3 it is important that students understand what is possible within the VCE and that we bust some of the myths and misunderstandings about completing an unscored VCE.
Myth One: An unscored VCE is an alternative course to a standard VCE.
The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) offers two year 12 qualifications these are the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. The VCAA does not recognise an unscored VCE as an alternative. Teachers are required to submit a score for all School Based Assessments and School Based Tasks for all students enrolled in VCE Unit 3 and 4 subjects.
Students who do not sit the November Unit 3/4 exams will not get an ATAR score from the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). The ATAR score is a ranking that tells students where they finish in relation to all other students who undertook VCE in that year. Students will still receive a study score (from VCAA) for each subject they complete.
Myth Two: An unscored VCE means a student does not do any school assessments.
The study design for each subject identifies Learning Outcomes that students must be able to demonstrate by the end of the unit. Depending on the subject, these learning outcomes will most likely cover knowledge, understanding and skills. Teachers use a range of strategies to assess learning outcomes including: class contributions, classwork activities, homework activities, school assessed coursework (SACs) and school assessed tasks (SATs). The teacher needs to be able to authenticate the learning for the students. This means the student needs to be able to demonstrate they have done the work independently. In most cases the teacher will need to see the student complete the work before their eyes. For this reason many SACs and complete under test conditions.
Within this structure teachers have the capacity to modify student assessments however teachers are still required to enter a score for all SACs for each student.
Myth Three: Students who are taking a gap year don't need an ATAR score.
Some students may choose to apply for university or TAFE and, after enrolment, opt to defer their place for 12 months. This is known as a gap year. In order to be offered the place in the first instance students need to have an ATAR score that meets the required limits for this course.
Sometimes students aren't clear about what they wish to do when they finish year 12 and take and extended break to 'find themselves" before committing to something. Should they wish to apply for university or TAFE the following year they will still be required to have an ATAR score with the range for the nominated course.
Myth Four: There are lots of courses that are accessible without an ATAR score.
It is true that there are some courses that do not have an ATAR score as an entry requirement. These courses do, however, have other requirements for enrolment such as:
- Interview panels
- Portfolios and work samples
- Entrance exams
- Non government assisted fees
Students need to be aware that the range and number of course options is reduced dramatically for students who do not have an ATAR score.
Myth Five: I don't need an ATAR score, I know the course I am doing and they will accept me.
Nobody has a place in a course until you have an offer in writing. Courses change from year to year and a course that is available when a student is in Year 11 might not exist when they are in Year 12 or might have changed its requirements.
Additionally some courses are over subscribed. When this is the case the educational organisation will require some form of system for working out who is in and who is out, this may include results from VCE.
Myth Six: I don't need an ATAR score as I will apply as an adult at 21 years of age.
Some courses do have an adult entry that does not require an ATAR score, however they usually require the applicant to be able to demonstrate they have the capacity to undertake the course. Sometimes this is attained through completion of a bridging course.
Again, the number of courses accessible without an ATAR score is reduced.
The advice from VCAA regarding this situation is that the exams uphold the integrity of the VCE and that students who do not wish to do them should be considering the VCAL as their alternative course. However, we understand that there are some students who, for their own personal reasons, would like to complete VCE without exams. Where this is the case we will be inviting the student and their parent to engage in Pathways discussion with Mr Phil Newnham and/or Mrs Dina Mingos to discuss the intended and unintended consequences of such a course prior to any final decision.