Implications for teaching, assessment and reporting

The science curriculum emphasises inquiry-based teaching and learning. A balanced and engaging approach to teaching will typically involve context, exploration, explanation and application. This requires a context or point of relevance through which students can make sense of the ideas they are learning. Opportunities for student-led open inquiry should also be provided within each phase of schooling.

Assessment encourages longer-term understanding and provides detailed diagnostic information. It shows what students know, understand and can demonstrate. It also shows what they need to do to improve. In particular, Science Inquiry Skills and Science as a Human Endeavour require a variety of assessment approaches.

Teachers use the Western Australian Curriculum content and achievement standards first to identify current levels of learning and achievement and then to select the most appropriate content (possibly from across several year levels) to teach individual students and/or groups of students. This takes into account that in each class there may be students with a range of prior achievement (below, at and above the year level expectations) and that teachers plan to build on current learning.

Teachers also use the achievement standards, at the end of a period of teaching, to make on-balance judgments about the quality of learning demonstrated by the students – that is, whether they have achieved below, at or above the standard. To make these judgments, teachers draw on assessment data that they have collected as evidence during the course of the teaching period. These judgments about the quality of learning are one source of feedback to students and their parents and inform formal reporting processes.

If a teacher judges that a student's achievement is below the expected standard, this suggests that the teaching programs and practice should be reviewed to better assist individual students in their learning in the future. It also suggests that additional support and targeted teaching will be needed to ensure that the student does not fall behind.

Assessment of the Western Australian Curriculum takes place in different levels and for different purposes, including:

  • ongoing formative assessment within classrooms for the purposes of monitoring learning and providing feedback, to teachers to inform their teaching and for students to inform their learning
  • summative assessment for the purposes of twice-yearly reporting by schools to parents and carers on the progress and achievement of students
  • annual testing of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students' levels of achievement in aspects of literacy and numeracy, conducted as part of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)
  • periodic sample testing of specific learning areas within the Western Australian Curriculum as part of the National Assessment Program (NAP).