Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Victorian Certificate of Education
The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is the credential given to students who have completed Year 11 and Year 12 of their secondary schooling, in the state of Victoria, Australia. It is considered to be one of the more rigorous secondary education programs in the world and is recognised as a requisite credential for admission to universities in Australia and worldwide. Study for the VCE is usually completed over two years, but it can be spread over a longer period in some cases.
Each VCE subject is organised into units. Students usually choose to study five or six subjects each year at the VCE level. The range of subjects depends on the school, as each individual school decides which subjects they will offer to their students.
Most, but not all, VCE subjects comprise four units. A unit is studied for one semester, with Units 1 and 2 being studied in Year 11 and Units 3 and 4 being taken in Year 12. Year 11 students can 'accelerate' and study a Unit 3/4 subject early, resulting in a bonus on their final score. Units 3 and 4 of any subject must be studied in sequence, whereas Units 1 and 2 can be mixed and matched in Year 11. Students are not required to complete all the units of a subject as part of the VCE course, however Units 1 and 2 usually must be studied before Units 3 and 4 of a subject can be attempted (unless 'accelerating'). On completing a Unit, a student receives an 'S' (Satisfactory), or an 'N' (Not Satisfactory).
In order to receive the VCE and an ENTER, students must have achieved an 'S' result for at least sixteen units, including 4 Units of English, the only compulsory subject (although there are variations, such as English Second Language or Literature that can count towards the English requirement). The ENTER (Equivalent National Tertiary Entry Rank) received ranges from 0 to 99.95 in increments of 0.05. An ENTER score of 60 indicates that a student has achieved a higher ENTER than 60% of the state, a score of 70 indicates a higher ENTER than 70% of the state etc.. However students that have left school (around 15%) are included in the calculation of ENTER. The median ENTER for students completing year 12 is approximatley 64. Approximately 20 students receive each incremental rank.
The ENTER is calculated from a series of Study Scores received for each Unit 3/4 subject successfully completed, ranging from 0 to 50. The students top four study scores(after scaling) and 10% of their next two best study scores count towards a students aggregate score, in 2004 an aggregate of 144.3 was higher than 80% of people in the age group, correlating to an ENTER of 80.
Study scores are scaled either up or down, depending on the Competativeness of each subject. The competativeness is determined by how well students achieving a certain score in each subject achieve in their other subjects and also in the GAT (compulsary during the middle of the year for each VCE student and similar to an IQ test)
The average study score in any subject is made equal to approximatley 30, with a standard deviation of approximatley 7. A study score is calculated most commonly from a combination of the assessment from both SAC (school asessed coursework) and mid year (only for sciences and accounting) and end of year exams.
The marks a student recieves for a unit 3 and 4 subject are irrelevent to the study score. At the end of the year students are assigned a SAC ranking from 1(the highest avg mark) to X (the lowest avg mark gets the lowest rank). The exam marks are then ranked from 1 to X and the highest exam mark is made equal to the highest SAC mark. Each other SAC rank is made equal to the corresponding exam rank in their respective orders from 1 to X (even if these are coming from diffrent people), until the exams are complete any students SAC mark is as of yet undefined and could range from UG (ungraded, generally the lowest 5%) to A+ (generally indicative of being somewhere in the top 10% of the state for exams and top 15% for SAC) because the SAC marks are exclusivley dependent on the exam marks and never the other way around. It is generally easier to obtain a higher mark for SAC than for exams as a higher percentage of people are given A's and A+'s on the SAC than on the exams where the upper quartile mark is lower. The Average mark in all subjects varies but is generaly around B+ for SAC and B for exams. The VCAA (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority) most likely award students a high average mark to help them with employment (high marks look impressive) and to help reduce dissapointment.
Universities provide a Clearly-In and a Fringe ENTER for each course, denoting the range of scores required to gain a place in a course. The ENTER requirement for each subject is generally determined by supply (the supply of places provided by the universities) relative to demand (the demand for each course as determined by the number of students who apply) for each course, and does not directly relate to the difficulty or the quality of the course. Victorian Technical colleges do not require an ENTER for admission (with few exceptions)
If any criticism could be made about the VCE it would be the way in which the internal assessment marks are calculated. Statistical moderation is the process where each students SAC rank is made equal to the corresponding exam rank leading to a distribution of SAC marks which is, in the minds of some who understand the system, innacurate. For example, an accounting class has 20 students each with the same approximate mark. The top student might average 80% and the bottom student might average 70% on the SAC. Even though each student in the class may have the same approximate ability, on the day of the exam, marks are likely to be inconsistent with SAC marks. Often one student does very well on the exam and one student does very poorly. If this occurred in our example class and yet the student averaging 70%(for SAC) got 90% for the exam and the student averaging 80% (for SAC) got 70% for the exam then the student averaging 80% (for SAC's)would still likely come out ontop due to this flaw in the statistical moderation process. It has been suggested that a more accurate system which accounts for the ratio and spread of a students SAC marks relative to the average would lead to a more accurate distribution of marks. The VCAA has not indicated a plan to change the statistical moderation process.
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