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Frequently asked questions: Common internal assessment

The CIA is for Essential English and Essential Mathematics and is based on the learning described in Unit 3 of the relevant Applied (Essential) syllabus. The CIA is:

  • developed by the QCAA
  • common to all schools
  • delivered to schools by the QCAA
  • administered under supervised conditions in Unit 3
  • marked by the school according to a common marking guide developed by the QCAA
  • used as part of the QCAA’s quality assurance processes for Applied subjects.

The CIA is not privileged over other summative internal assessment when calculating and reporting results.

The CIA differs from EA in that:

  • the CIA is part of a school-developed assessment program based on the Applied syllabuses of Essential English and Essential Mathematics. EA is part of the QCAA-prescribed assessment program outlined in the General and General (Extension) syllabuses
  • schools manage the CIA implementation within their school assessment policy. (See Sections 8 and 9.4 in the QCE and QCIA policy and procedures handbook.) EA implementation is managed by the QCAA
  • while the QCAA develops both the EA and CIA, schools mark the CIA, and QCAA assessors mark the EA.

The QCAA has developed resources for the Applied (Essential) subjects that can be accessed via the QCAA Portal. These resources include:

  • teaching, learning and assessment plans
  • sample assessment instruments with annotated responses
  • subject-specific teaching and learning resources, e.g. scaffolding for breaking texts apart and formula sheets.

Secure packages containing shrink-wrapped materials for teachers and for assessment will arrive in schools via the front administration office/reception area.

On the day of delivery, schools need to:

  • use the material supply list to confirm they have received the required quantity of materials
  • notify the QCAA that they have received the materials
  • keep the materials secure until the CIAs are to be administered. For Essential English, the seen stimulus book can be distributed to students at the start of the three-week phase and prior to the administration of the assessment.

After the assessment period, schools need to securely store all materials until the QCAA advises them further.

No. The assessment materials will include teacher packs that include copies of the CIA question and response book, relevant stimulus, and the marking guides. These materials should be sufficient for teachers to prepare for the assessment implementation and remove the need for them to open any additional shrink-wrapped materials before the day of assessment (with the exception of the Essential English seen stimulus book).

It is recommended that schools use the Essential English seen stimulus prior to the CIA administration to enable deconstruction of the seen stimulus in class. Seen stimulus books will be sent to schools with the assessment materials. Schools must ensure students do not have access to an annotated copy of the seen stimulus during the administration of the assessment. All other assessment materials need to be kept secure before and after the CIA administration.

While schools can deliver the assessment at any time during the five-week phase, it is recommended that they administer the assessment in the third week of the CIA delivery phase to provide maximum teaching, learning and preparation time.

It is recommended that schools share the Essential English seen stimulus book with students at the beginning of the five-week period to allow time for deconstruction during class time.

Assessment materials are individualised only for students with approved alternative formats. Schools will receive individually named pack/s for those students with printed versions of approved alternative format (see AARA). For students requiring assistive technology, schools will be able to access digital formats of the assessment materials in the fileShare application. Schools will receive details for access prior to the delivery phase.

Schools will receive the following standard set of assessment materials for the rest of the cohort:

  • Essential English: assessment materials (to be kept secure) and seen stimulus (to distribute to students at the start of the three-week implementation phase)
  • Essential Mathematics: assessment materials (to be kept secure).

As the CIA is an internal assessment, subject teachers can supervise its administration. There is no requirement for a QCAA invigilator (person from the community appointed by the QCAA to observe administration of external assessment) to be involved in the CIA process.

The assessment supervisor/s, which can be the subject teacher/s, need to:

  • follow the procedures in the Guidelines for administration in the QCAA Portal on the Noticeboard tile.
  • check approved equipment as students enter the assessment room
  • actively supervise students at all times to ensure exam conditions are maintained
  • implement AARA arrangements as required.

Applications for existing long-term and chronic conditions are due by the end of Unit 2. For the CIA, it is important that schools notify the QCAA in a timely fashion if a student is likely to require an alternative format version of the paper.

Applications for short-term conditions or temporary injuries that are unlikely to be resolved before the implementation phase should be submitted as soon as possible once eligibility has been established.

All CIA AARA applications (principal-approved and QCAA-approved) must be made using the AARA application in the QCAA Portal.

For students who are absent on the day of the CIA, the school will need to provide opportunities for the student to complete the assessment (see Section 6.5.1 of the QCE and QCIA policy and procedures handbook). As the CIA is an internal assessment, it is a school decision whether a comparable task is required. This decision should be based on two questions:

  • Does the reason for the absence fit with the school assessment policy?
  • Has the integrity of the instrument been compromised?

Schools are to implement processes that maintain the integrity of the original assessment for the cohort. These processes need to be consistent with the school assessment policy. More information can be found about the school assessment policy in Section 8 of the QCE and QCIA policy and procedures handbook and through the Noticeboard application in the QCAA Portal.

The school should contact the QCAA as soon as possible for advice if the integrity of the instrument has been compromised. This notification should be sent to

Schools providing distance education can request digital formats of the assessment materials to distribute to students who are geographically isolated and who are unable to complete their assessment at their main learning provider because of this isolation. This will enable schools to support students and still meet CIA implementation timeframes.

Schools should email requests for these digital materials to

Schools can show students their marked papers with results; however, students cannot keep their completed papers. Once all students have completed the assessment, judgments have been made, and the school has undertaken internal quality assurance processes on those judgments, schools can share and discuss papers and results with students.

Marking guides are not to be shared with students before they sit their assessment. Teachers use the marking guides to make judgments about student responses.

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