Standard-based assessment

We use the standards-based assessment (SBA) method to ensure the quality of our assessment tasks.

Standards-based assessment (SBA) allows students to judge the quality of their work against pre-determined benchmarks. Each grade is assigned as a measure of their achievement of the subject and course learning outcomes.

Designing SBA involves aligning assessment tasks to subject learning outcomes and to pre-defined criteria with related standards of skills, knowledge and competencies. In other words, learning outcomes for courses and subjects are linked to assessment tasks, and the marking criteria tell students what is expected of them to pass and perform well.

Benefits of SBA

SBA comes with a range of benefits for both students and teaching staff.

For students:

  • Provides greater transparency and satisfaction in the assessment process.
  • Students clearly understand what needs to be produced to attain a certain grade.
  • Helps students understand where they sit on the continuum of performance measures.
  • Criteria and standards provide a platform for students to reflect on their own learning and assess their own work.
  • Judgement is untainted by prior performance.
  • The process is fairer as students are graded according to their own knowledge and achievements, not to the performance of their peers.
  • Assessment is more predictable and consistent as grades are awarded based on pre-defined criteria only.
  • Encourages higher-order learning as students understand the expectations.

For staff:

  • Provides shared understanding between students and teaching staff as to what is required in an assessment.
  • Describing clear expectations of performance across different grade levels often results in fewer student queries over grading decisions.
  • Greater consistency of marking across different markers, campuses and cohorts.
  • Clearly defined criteria provide a good guide for developing your teaching strategies.
  • Reviewing the criteria and standards post-delivery helps staff develop batter assessment strategies for next time.
  • Working collaboratively in course teams ensures assessment strategy is aligned across the course and helps everyone with professional development.
  • Provides an opportunity to review and improve assessment at both the course and subject level.
  • Provides an opportunity for professional growth and sharing amongst peers.

Getting started

There are a number of important elements to standards-based assessment, and while they are represented here as a series of steps, in practice you often complete these concurrently rather than sequentially.

You need to develop:

Criteria and standards are not something you develop once and use forever; you'll want to tweak them over time based on:

  • student feedback
  • questions from markers
  • your own experience as you see how others interpret them.