Selection process

The High Performing Students Unit selects students based on academic merit demonstrated by a calculated placement score. This score is calculated using moderated school assessment scores and scaled results of the Opportunity Class Placement Test.

Selection committees

A selection committee is convened for each school with an opportunity class. It is made up of at least two people – the school principal and a member of the school counselling service and can also include other Departmental staff, such as Directors, Public Schools NSW or relevant school staff.

All selection committees make their placement decisions using the same criteria, but each school makes its decisions independently.  Places are offered based on academic merit. The committees decide how many students to place on reserve lists.

Selection committees:

  • place students applying for their school in order of their placement scores
  • consider illness/misadventure requests
  • consider disability and medical and behavioural conditions
  • consider matters affecting students outside the usual age range or school Year
  • given consideration to students who are Aboriginal or who have been educated in English for less than 48 months
  • look at other evidence of academic merit, if necessary
  • list students for offers and reserve places according to the number of vacancies at the school
  • consider other relevant factors brought to their attention.

Selection committees have the discretion to accept or reject any applicants who have been allowed to apply late based on extenuating circumstances.

Moderation of school assessment scores

A process of moderation adjusts scores in a fair and consistent way as each school has different assessment methods and marks differently. Moderation allows scores to be compared against each other statewide.

School assessment scores are provided for English and mathematics. They rank all candidates from a particular primary school applying for opportunity class placement in order of merit, showing the relative gaps between the students.

For example, a school with five applicants for opportunity class placement may provide the following school assessment scores.

StudentsEnglishMathematics
Student A 95 72
Student B 83 89
Student C 79 91
Student D 77 90
Student E 64 61

Submitted school assessment scores are adjusted through a process of moderation to allow comparison of student scores from different schools. The scores are adjusted based on that group's performance in the Opportunity Class Placement Test.

The mean (average) and standard deviation (spread of scores) of the English and mathematics tests are calculated for all students from each primary school who sat the test. The mean and standard deviation are then applied to the school assessment scores. This method ensures the rank order and relative gaps between students at a school stays the same.

Scaling of test marks

The scaling of the test marks is done on a statewide basis regardless of the schools attended by the students. Each test component is adjusted so they are weighted equally and have equal weighting with the moderated school assessment scores.

Different maximum marks apply to the various test components.

  • English – 20
  • mathematics – 20
  • general ability – 30

Each component of the Opportunity Class Placement Test is scaled to a mean of 60 and a standard deviation of 12.

The following graph shows an example of scaling for the mathematics test. In the example a raw mark of 17 out of 40 was scaled to 60 out of 100 with a standard deviation of 12 – 68% of the candidates received a scaled mark of between 48 and 72.

Bell curve outlining how test marks are scaled

Scaling of school assessment scores

The school assessment scores are scaled just like the test results, using the mean and standard deviation from candidates from one school. These are applied to the raw scores provided by that school. This gives the raw school assessment scores parity with all schools statewide – giving them equal weighting with the scaled test scores.

For example, in 2015 a sample school with 64 candidates had school assessment scores for mathematics with a mean of 83 and a standard deviation of 13. When those students sat the mathematics test their scaled scores had a mean around 65 and a standard deviation around 14. You can see the results of the scaling of these assessment scores in the graph below.

The diagram explains how moderated school assessment scores work

Calculated placement score

The calculated placement score is a mark out of 300. For most students it is provided at the bottom of the email advising the application outcome.

The calculated placement score is made up of:

  • moderated school assessment scores for English and mathematics
  • scaled test marks for English
  • scaled test marks for mathematics
  • scaled test marks for general ability.
Test component Scaled school assessment score Scaled test mark Total
English 50 50 100
Mathematics 50 50 100
General ability No school score 100 100
Total 100 200 300

For most students the calculated placement score determines offers of placement. A small group of students may be granted special consideration or an illness/misadventure request.

It is unlikely a student will achieve a calculated placement score of 300 as the test is very difficult and school assessment scores rarely moderate to 100. You cannot compare scores from one year to another.

See the entry scores (39KB) held by the last students accepting offers to opportunity classes last year. These scores change from year to year.

Score details for parents

Outcome emails ad letters advise parents of their child’s calculated placement score. A further letter or attachment is provided with the breakdown of the raw school assessment scores and test marks. In a few cases the score cannot be published. If parents do not receive their child’s score they can write to the Unit for an explanation.

The selection committee may adjust a child’s score based on criteria such as a student’s Aboriginality, length of time doing all school work in English, illness/misadventure request, appeal and a number of other factors. This is why a student may appear higher on a reserve list than another student with a higher calculated placement score. It is too complicated to publish the adjusted placement score as they can vary across the two selection committees considering the application.

No other score information is available, including adjusted scores or school rankings.

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