Grouping Policy - Grouping in Years 8-12

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Grouping Policy
Grouping in Years 8-12

Grouping in Years 8-12

Year 8

By the end of year 7, motivation and performance variables will result in a new rank order to be created - a performance rank order. All faculties should be implementing multiple measures to ascertain an accurate performance rank order by the end of Year 7. We should bear in mind that to the extent that the new rank order does not reflect measured ability, some less than optimal learning has probably taken place. Learning styles need to be considered in relation to a comprehensive curriculum 7-10. In the interests of maximising demonstrated performance on syllabus related tasks, there is a strong argument for high performers to be in the same class where four or more classes are scheduled in a subject cohort. Either the top 30 boys should be selected for the same class or the top sixty boys should be in two classes and the other 5 or 4 classes made up of mixed performance.

Years 9 & 10

In Stage 5 some very apparent subject specific performance differences emerge amongst gifted learners, yet they have to continue in the compulsory curriculum. Higher performing students in English, mathematics and science should be grouped together - or at least the top 60 of them should be - if we are to maximise the overall potential of the cohort. More sophisticated performance indicators need to be developed during Year 8 so that an accurate assessment may be made of the standard of student learning by the end of the year. Again, banding is the preferred grouping strategy, but fully graded classes are better than mixed ability ones for gifted achievement.

Years 11 & 12

By spreading the courses across the timetable lines we have greatly enhanced choice for senior students. However, specific assessment problems result in English , Mathematics and science in particular. Where possible, multiple classes on a line to should be banded or graded. In Year 11 a great majority of our students are taking extensions in mathematics and English. In such a case it is wise to grade so that if class numbers reduce in Year 12, the high performing students are not affected. As far as possible 1-unit discontinuers should be identified and grouped together in terminating classes.


In years 8-12, individual Departments develop their own policy in respect of grouping. Where six classes are scheduled for one line, there is an expectation that some form of ‘banding’ will occur. A ’banded’ grouping allocation means that one or two classes of high achievers are formed in a year cohort and the rest of the classes are mixed in measured performance. A ‘graded’ year cohort means that each class in the year is formed on the basis of descending measured performance in the preceding semester or year. A ‘streamed’ year means that the cohort has been divided into two groups and these two groups have been graded. ‘Mixed ability’ means that students are assigned to classes randomly, using the alphabet or some other means.

Department Grouping Policies

Years 8-10 - In English, two high performance classes and four mixed ability classes are determined in Years 8, 9 and 10. These classes are re-created each year according to the demonstrated performance of all students as opposed to their potential as indicated in ability test results.

Class work is a vital part of student assessment because it develops skills and knowledge. Programs stipulate the outcomes central to each unit of work that classes study. To satisfactorily complete outcomes mandated in the English Syllabus, students must complete the work their teachers provide for them. Students are given an indication of their performance in each task and an understanding of which level of performance their assessment products fit. There are common tasks at the completion of each unit. A Standards Referencing Check ensures work of the same standard is awarded the same mark within the same level of performance. In Term 4 students are invited to complete a Talented Students Project which is considered along with the other measures of high achievement.

At the end of the year a pool of suitable candidates for the high performance band is chosen after a conference of teachers of that cohort. The teachers consider results in across-the-year tests, the quality of a portfolio of a student’s work, selected work samples and in-class indicators of high performance in English. Generally speaking, students rated as grade ‘A’ in respect of the School Certificate indicators, are chosen for the high performers pool. Students who are rated by their teachers as on the cusp of ‘A’ performance are then discussed. Work samples, test results and in-class data are considered. If this process produces more than 60 students in the pool (including the previously selected level 6 performers), the final composition of the band of high performers is decided on the basis of the rank order achieved in the Yearly examination.

Years 11-12 - The most able students in each line in Year 11 are clustered in nominated Advanced English classes where possible. Able students are banded together in Extension English, within the constraints of the timetable. (English is offered on several lines in the senior school.) When deciding on suitable candidates for high performing students in Preliminary Course classes, a combination of class work and across-the-year test results is used. In Year 12, classes carry forward as in Year 11, due to the commencement of Year 12 work in Term 4 of Year 11.

Year 8 is grouped into two parallel streams, based on students’ yearly report marks. After one semester those students with a mark which exceeds the median mark of the class above are eligible for promotion. A student may be moved down if his mark is lower than the median mark of the class below. It is possible to move more than one class up or down. Year 9 is re-graded based on the Year 8 yearly report mark. There is no movement during the year. Movement from Year 9 to Year 10 is based on students’ results exceeding or being under neighbouring class medians, based on results in the Yearly examination. In Year 11 classes are graded within levels, based upon performance in the Year 10 Yearly and the Year 10 Options examinations. After term 1 in Year 11, four classes of 2-unit students will be selected to complete HSC 2-unit mathematics. The remainder of the mathematics extension classes will sit for Preliminary examinations at the end of term 3. There is no re-grading in Year 12.

Stage 5 Science classes are grouped into 1 high achievement class and 5 mixed ability classes based on the previous year’s results. The 5 and 1 split system allows students at the high end of the achievement scale to move more quickly through the course work and creates time for extension activities. The banding is designed to avoid students feeling that they were no good at science. Senior science classes are not streamed due to timetabling constraints. In some lines there are 2 physics classes or 2 chemistry classes. Students are allocated to approximately equal mixed ability classes. Senior classes are allocated evenly among teachers with appropriate qualifications. Junior classes including the banded year 9 and 10 classes are allocated as evenly as possible after senior needs are met.

Social Science
No banding or streaming occurs in Years 7-10. Senior classes are not streamed. Where there are two classes in the same line (Economics) students are allocated alphabetically to form equal mixed ability classes. Senior classes are allocated to teachers with appropriate qualifications and subject specialisations. Junior classes are allocated as evenly as possible within the constraints resulting from the allocation of senior classes.

Years 7 to 10 follow English classes to ease the demands placed on the timetable. Years 9 & 10 electives are on separate timetable lines and consequently are mixed ability. Senior history classes appear only once on each line and as a result are mixed ability except that on occasions all non mathematics students appear in the same class. In Year 10 an accelerated history class may be formed from history electives students.

Languages other than English
Chinese students are grouped into 3 classes. There is a clear distinction between the two Background classes and the single non-background class. Although desirable, because of timetabling issues caused by the choice of a second language, it is not always possible to grade the Background classes. Otherwise, no grouping occurs except what might be necessary to allow all students to study their 1 or 2 language choices in on-line or off-line classes. If 2 languages are chosen, they are not chosen preferentially and this frees up options for placing students. In Years 9-10, Chinese students are grouped into 1 Background and 1 Non-Background class. Otherwise it is rare for there to 2 be classes in any 1 language. Senior classes are not grouped.

In Years 7-9 PE classes are determined by classes determined by other departments. In Year 10 the assessment focus broadens to incorporate the value of co-operation and teamwork. Thirty percent of the School Certificate assessment grade is given to team-based competitions in soccer, touch football, basketball, volleyball and/or cricket. The team selection is based on a grouping policy to promote balanced competitions, with the more skilled players spread throughout the teams. New teams combinations are selected for each sport.

Technology and Applied Studies
For Design and Technology in Years 7 & 8 classes are formed by other criteria and split into three groups of twenty from paired base classes. In electives classes in Years 9 & 10, TAS electives tend to be in single classes or on different lines. Grouping is not an issue, except in the case of ability grouping for acceleration in Information Processes and Technology. In the senior school, single classes on a line are usual, so grouping is not relevant.

Creative Arts
For Creative Arts in Years 7 & 8 classes are determined by classes formed by other departments and split into 9 classes of twenty in each year from paired classes. In electives classes in Years 9 & 10, music and Art electives tend to be in single classes or on different lines. Grouping is not an issue, except in the case of ability grouping for acceleration in Visual Arts and Music. In the senior school, single classes on a line are usual, so grouping is not relevant.

Future Directions

The Senior Executive and Head Teachers will continue to refine their approaches to purposeful grouping to enhance learning outcomes. Talented students in particular disciplines will be identified and targeted. Where possible classes will be formed to accelerate appropriate students. A wide range of data will be gathered on incoming Year 7 students to assist identification of talents or support needs. Banding will be refined as a school policy for multiple classes on the same line of the timetable.