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7.4 Developing a comparable assessment instrument

A comparable assessment instrument is developed by a school from the original instrument if the integrity of the endorsed assessment instrument has been compromised for one or more students. This may be as a result of illness or misadventure, or when managing a school-approved absence for an examination. In these cases, for some assessments, the school may need to administer a different assessment instrument so that the integrity of the assessment can be maintained. Schools may develop more than one comparable assessment instrument, if required.

Maintaining the integrity of assessment and decisions about the need for a comparable assessment instrument applies to all subjects, including for Units 3 and 4 Applied subjects, and Units 1 and 2 for all subjects. General, General (Extension) and Applied (Essential) subjects that have an endorsed summative assessment instrument need to develop the comparable instrument in the Endorsement application. A school may need to develop more than one comparable assessment if the integrity of a subsequent comparable assessment instrument cannot be maintained.

A comparable assessment instrument should:

  • allow students to use the same knowledge and skills required for the original assessment instrument
  • gather evidence of student learning using the assessment objectives, ISMG or instrument-specific standards of the syllabus
  • assess similar subject matter and topics to the endorsed assessment instrument
  • relate to the texts studied by all students at that school
  • be of similar complexity, scope and scale
  • have the same conditions.

The following changes are reasonable when developing a comparable assessment instrument. Schools are best placed to make decisions about the amount of adjustment made to the assessment instrument. The comparable assessment may be made different to the original instrument by:

  • varying the context or scenario
  • sampling different subject matter for some items
  • changing the focus of the response
  • replacing all or some of the stimulus material, sources or data
  • changing the text or numerical values within short-response items.

If a school has determined a comparable assessment instrument needs to be developed, they should contact the QCAA for support and advice about appropriate types of changes for the assessment technique.

Developing comparable assessment/s in the Endorsement application

To develop a comparable assessment instrument for an endorsed instrument in General, General (Extension) and Applied (Essential) subjects, schools:

  • open the endorsed assessment instrument in the Endorsement application
  • click the ‘Modify the endorsed assessment’ button to open an editable version of the endorsed assessment instrument
  • make the required changes and upload any expected attachments, such as stimulus or a marking scheme
  • use the quality assurance tool to ensure the assessment instrument still meets all validity and accessibility criteria, including the syllabus requirements and all assessment specifications
  • give a unique name to the assessment instrument, to ensure the correct one is attached to the student files for confirmation purposes. For one endorsed assessment instrument a school may require multiple comparable assessment instruments, to administer with different students, therefore each must have a different name.
  • send the completed assessment instrument/s via the Endorsement application to the Approver. Comparable assessment instruments are approved by the endorsement Approver for that subject in the school as ready for implementation; they are not submitted to the QCAA for endorsement.

If an endorsed assessment instrument is compromised for all students in the cohort, the school should contact the QCAA — in this case the endorsed assessment instrument may require an amendment or replacement.

See Section 8: School assessment policies, particularly 8.1.3: Promoting academic integrity, and Section 9: Internal assessment — Quality assurance, particularly 9.6: Endorsement (Units 3 and 4), 9.5.6: Amending an endorsed assessment instrument (whole cohort) and 9.7: Confirmation (Units 3 and 4).

For more information see the factsheet Comparable assessment instruments: Endorsement on the Noticeboard in the QCAA Portal.

Common internal assessment (CIA)

Schools administer the CIA in the school’s nominated CIA phase window. In circumstances where this is not possible, the QCAA will provide a comparable assessment for the CIA. Eligibility for a comparable assessment will be determined by the school as outlined in its school assessment policy. Students who are eligible for a comparable assessment will be required to complete the CIA in the ancillary phase in Term 3. Schools must notify the QCAA about students who will need to sit a comparable assessment by reporting a comparable assessment for IA2 via the AARA application in the QCAA Portal. For further information, see Common internal assessment: Guidelines for administration, which will be made available to schools before Phase 1. Schools should download the latest version immediately before their chosen phase. For more information about administering the CIA, contact

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