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NSW Syllabuses

Planning for effective learning and assessment

When planning effective learning and assessment activities, teachers should consider whether the teaching, learning and assessment approaches are appropriate to the syllabus outcomes being addressed.

What should teachers consider when planning for effective learning and assessment?

  • Classroom and assessment activities should be clearly related to the syllabus outcomes.
  • Students should be provided with opportunities to demonstrate what they know and can do.
  • A variety of assessment approaches may be used so that students have the opportunity to show what they know and can do in different ways.
  • A single activity can often provide information about more than one syllabus outcome; for example, an assessment activity may show a student's knowledge, problem-solving and evaluation skills.

In NSW, the syllabus outcomes are used as key reference points for decisions about students' progress and achievement.

Syllabus outcomes:

  • indicate the knowledge, understanding and skills expected to be acquired by most students by the end of a stage as a result of effective teaching and learning
  • are derived from the syllabus objectives
  • present a sequence of learning for each stage and take into account prior and subsequent learning of students.

Syllabus outcomes are used by teachers to:

  • plan and develop learning and assessment opportunities
  • monitor student progress
  • assess and measure student achievement against intended learning at each stage
  • report student progress and achievement during, and at the end of, a stage.

These steps are outlined below:

What evidence of learning is required?

Evidence of learning assists teachers in making professional judgements about student progress and achievement in relation to syllabus outcomes. The criteria should be based on the outcomes to assess and monitor student learning. A range of evidence should be used to determine the level of achievement of outcomes and to plan the next steps in the learning process.

How will this evidence be gathered?

The criteria used to assess student progress can be incorporated across a range of assessment strategies that include:

  • informal and formal activities
  • teacher- or student-directed activities
  • a diversity of approaches: assessment for, as and of learning.

Evidence gathered by teachers may include:

  • observations
  • anecdotal records
  • analysis of work samples against criteria
  • conferences/discussions with students
  • student reflections.

Evidence of student achievement may include:

  • research projects
  • practical tasks and demonstrations
  • response tasks, including tests
  • performances and presentations
  • resubmissions following feedback
  • peer and self-assessment.

See also: Recording evidence

What content, learning experiences and instruction will allow students to demonstrate these outcomes?

The content describes in more detail:

  • how the outcomes are to be interpreted and used
  • the intended learning appropriate for the stage.

A range of teaching, learning and assessment activities and strategies can provide students with opportunities to demonstrate achievement of outcomes. Teachers make decisions about the type and sequence of instruction, the emphasis to be given to particular areas of content, and any adjustments or support required based on the needs, interests and abilities of their students.

The context and learning experiences should be designed to build on students’ knowledge, understanding and skills. Teachers may select the context taking into account:

  • students’ past and current learning experiences and performances
  • students’ achievement in relation to outcomes achieved previously
  • students’ interests, learning needs and cultural background
  • other factors, such as local resources.

How will feedback be provided?

Appropriate feedback during, and at the end of, teaching, learning and assessment activities may guide and clarify student learning and understanding.

Teachers should consider:

  • the most effective form of feedback for students based on the criteria provided
  • how feedback contributes to and improves future learning.

Feedback may take a variety of forms, including digital and other modes. It may be formal or informal, and include:

  • oral feedback from the teacher, student and their peers and/or through group work activities, forums and conferences
  • self-assessment by students based on the criteria
  • written feedback based on the criteria for assessing learning
  • provision of exemplar responses to assist students in further analysing their work.

See also: Effective feedback

Is there sufficient evidence that students have made progress as a result of these experiences?

Progress, in relation to the assessment criteria, can be used by students and teachers to:

  • determine how well students have demonstrated achievement of outcomes
  • plan the next steps in learning.

Teachers can adjust future learning experiences to meet the needs of their students where appropriate. Students may engage with:

  • similar learning experiences in relation to selected outcomes
  • similar learning experiences in a new context
  • different outcomes.
Students can plan with their teachers the next steps in their learning. They may reflect on:
  • what they learned
  • what strategies they used to learn
  • how well they learned
  • how they can improve their learning.


Some points to consider when planning learning and assessment opportunities:

  • Will the activity provide useful information about what students have learned?
  • Is it easy to administer and relatively simple to prepare and use?
  • Is it easy to analyse evidence and provide meaningful feedback?
  • What steps can be built in to provide a level of achievement and challenge appropriate for all students?
  • How will information be collected and recorded?
  • How will results be communicated to students and others?
  • How can students, parents and other teachers be helped to make the best use of the results?

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