Selection process

The High Performing Students Unit moderates school assessment scores using the results of the Selective High Schools Placement Test and scales scores to calculate the placement score.

Selection committees

A selection committee is convened for each selective high school. It is made up of at least two people – the principal and a parent or community representative. Placement at a specific selective high school is made by that school's selection committee.

Selection committees consider individual circumstances such as disabilities and decide whether to accept the grounds for illness/misadventure requests. They have the discretion to accept or reject any applicants who have been allowed to apply late based on extenuating circumstances. They can also give special consideration to students of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background and those who have been doing most school work in the English language for less than four years.

The calculated placement score is used to determine placement. It is made up of:

Moderation of school assessment scores

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

For example, a school with five candidates 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 Selective High Schools Placement Test.

The mean (average) and standard deviation (spread of scores) of the English and mathematics sections of the test are calculated for all students 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.

Why moderate school 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.

The high performing students unit uses the reading and writing tests to moderate the English school assessment score and the mathematics test to moderate the mathematics school assessment score.

Scaling of test marks

Each component of the Selective High Schools Placement Test is scaled to a mean of 60 and a standard deviation of 12. The reading and writing components are combined to create a result for English.

The scaling of the test marks is done on a statewide basis regardless of the schools attended by the students.

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.

Bell curve outlining how test marks are scaled
Mathematics test example

Why are test results scaled?

Different maximum marks apply to the various test components.

  • reading – 45
  • writing – 20
  • mathematics – 40
  • general ability – 60

Each test component needs to be adjusted so they are weighted equally. Additionally the test results need to have equal weighting with the moderated school assessment scores.

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
Example of scaling of mathematics school assessment scores

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 = 2/3 of the scaled reading test marks + 1/3 of the scaled writing test marks
  • scaled test marks for mathematics
  • scaled test marks for general ability.
Test component Scaled school assessment score Scaled test mark Total
English (2/3 reading and 1/3 writing) 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 for individual circumstances such as illness or misadventure.

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. Generally the top score is between 270 and 280 but scores vary from year to year. Therefore you cannot compare scores from one year to another.

See the entry scores (800KB) held by the last students accepting offers to selective high schools last year. These scores change from year to year.

Score details for parents

Outcome letters and emails 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.

Scores information, where available, will include the following.

  • School assessment scores:
    • English out of 100
    • mathematics out of 100.
  • Selective High Schools Placement Test results:
    • reading out of 45
    • writing out of 20
    • mathematics out of 40
    • general ability out of 60.

You cannot recalculate a calculated placement score using the above marks as results are moderated and scaled statewide.

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 three selection committees considering the application.

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

Go to frequently asked questions about marks for further information about the marks letters sent with placement outcomes.

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