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Thread: Request For Raw Marks Denied

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    Request For Raw Marks Denied

    Hey guys,

    I got my letter in the post today rejceting my request for raw marks. I don't totally understand why, I mean, they HAVE released marks this year... This is what I was told:

    "This refusal is persuant to provisions of Schedule 1 of the FOI Act at clause 16 (Documents concerning operations of agencies) paragraphs (a)(i) and (ii) relating to access being prejudicial to the effectivness or the attainment of the objects of test and examinations. The decision-maker has formed the view that granting you access to this information will assist in the determination and then public disclosure of the HSC cut scores seperating the bands on the performance scale for the 2004 HSC. The specific information sought by you is a confidential aspect of the annual HSC marking program for the reason that its wider availability would compromise the integrity of the marking program in future years. Accordingly, the decision-maker has determined that the disclosure of this infomration is contrary to the public interest."

    Something tells me i could've been to specific in my request (I asked for them itemised) but haven't they been known to offer only part of the requeset? I mean, I used the BOS form the rest of you did... I would appeal but that means anotehr 40 bucks, and the 30 i first put in is gone 'cause of filing. Can anyone decipher that crap and give me a straight answer why?
    Bill

    B Education (Secondary: Humanities and Social Sciences)/B Arts at The University of Sydney

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    But pieces of what? Slidey's Avatar
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    I think all itemised requests were rejected. Try again non-itemised if you really want them.

    The rejections are a load of crap if you ask me, though.

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    It's all pretty bullshit if you ask me. They take my 30 bucks, then reject me, then ask me if I wanna try again and take away another 40 bucks? So if I get rejected again are they going to give me back any money?

    GRRRRRRRRRR! So angry at the Board!
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    Retired Lazarus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will_Sparky
    ...
    The decision-maker has formed the view that granting you access to this information will assist in the determination and then public disclosure of the HSC cut scores seperating the bands on the performance scale for the 2004 HSC.
    ...
    Hah, wow, how exciting!

    Your request was refused for one of the following two reasons:

    1) The Board has realised that we can accurately estimate raw band cut-offs by splicing together raw and aligned marks from different students. As a result, they have simply put a blanket ban on all future disclosures of raw marks. [Edit: This now appears to be the case.]

    OR

    2) At least one of your marks falls exactly on a band cut-off, and disclosing the raw mark to you would simultaneously disclose the exact raw band cut-off. I recall that your examination mark for English Advanced was 90 - this might be it. There is no precedent for the direct disclosure of raw band cut-offs.

    I believe the second scenario is the more likely one.

    This is certainly a very interesting turn of events... I tracked down one of the students who scored Band 6 in Standard English last year and offered to subsidise her FOI application so that we'd be able to know the raw mark needed for 90+. The request hasn't yet been sent in, but it appears as though we'll be encountering more difficulties than anticipated when it is... mmmm.

    Guess it's a good thing I'm taking Admin Law this semester.

    What can you do? Well, appealing is your only option if you really want the marks. It'll cost you $40 to ask the Board to review its decision. It's possible but unlikely that this would result in a successful outcome. The more likely scenario is that you would need to further appeal to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (an additional $50). Without assistance, this would require a reasonable amount of effort on your part. But I'm convinced that, if handled properly, such an appeal would be successful.

    You could also wait until someone else does it first. Maybe I should consider requesting the cut-offs directly? Though I was involved in (what were meant to be) negotations with the Board the year before last regarding disclosure of raw band cut-offs, and I recall promising that I wouldn't just request them. In reality, that promise was implicitly based on the condition that the Board would cooperate and work with me to reach a solution which both parties would find acceptable, but the whole thing ended up being rather one-sided.

    Hmm. I'll have to think on it.

    I really don't know why the Board just doesn't release them. Somehow I don't think the world is going to end if people know what raw mark equates to a particular standard.
    Lazarus
    Et in arcadia ego...

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    FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1989 - SECT 28

    28 Notices of determination

    (2) Such a notice shall specify:

    ...

        (e) if the determination is to the effect that access to a document is refused:

            (i) the reasons for the refusal, and

            (ii) the findings on any material questions of fact underlying those reasons, together with a reference to the sources of information on which those findings are based

    ...
    You could at the very least ask for proper evidence for the refusal - see above.
    Lazarus
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    Junior Member ngai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will_Sparky
    "This refusal is persuant to provisions of Schedule 1 of the FOI Act at clause 16 (Documents concerning operations of agencies) paragraphs (a)(i) and (ii) relating to access being prejudicial to the effectivness or the attainment of the objects of test and examinations. The decision-maker has formed the view that granting you access to this information will assist in the determination and then public disclosure of the HSC cut scores seperating the bands on the performance scale for the 2004 HSC. The specific information sought by you is a confidential aspect of the annual HSC marking program for the reason that its wider availability would compromise the integrity of the marking program in future years. Accordingly, the decision-maker has determined that the disclosure of this infomration is contrary to the public interest."
    I got that too.
    And no, none of my marks lie on the cutoff for bands. I got marks of 93, 95, 96, 99, 100 in eng adv, chem, phys, 4u math, 3u math; uai of 99.95.
    Btw it was david murphy who made the decision (director, corporate services)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngai
    I got that too.
    And no, none of my marks lie on the cutoff for bands. I got marks of 93, 95, 96, 99, 100 in eng adv, chem, phys, 4u math, 3u math; uai of 99.95.
    Btw it was david murphy who made the decision (director, corporate services)
    Maybe it's coz you came 1st in Ext 2...might give an idea as to what the highest raw exam mark was...which they don't want to disclose.
    BCom/LLB (1st Year) @ UNSW '06

    HSC Class of 2005
    NSW UAI: 99.95

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazarus

    2) At least one of your marks falls exactly on a band cut-off, and disclosing the raw mark to you would simultaneously disclose the exact raw band cut-off. I recall that your examination mark for English Advanced was 90 - this might be it. There is no precedent for the direct disclosure of raw band cut-offs.
    Thats what I thought when I first got them. English Adv and 2u Maths were both 90 exam, but they were my only two, can't they normally just partially disclose the others?
    Bill

    B Education (Secondary: Humanities and Social Sciences)/B Arts at The University of Sydney

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngai
    I got that too.
    And no, none of my marks lie on the cutoff for bands. I got marks of 93, 95, 96, 99, 100 in eng adv, chem, phys, 4u math, 3u math; uai of 99.95.
    Btw it was david murphy who made the decision (director, corporate services)
    They look like HSC marks... did any of your examination or assessment marks fall on the cut-offs?


    Quote Originally Posted by Will_Sparky
    Thats what I thought when I first got them. English Adv and 2u Maths were both 90 exam, but they were my only two, can't they normally just partially disclose the others?
    Yes, and they're meant to do this whenever possible:


    FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1989 - SECT 25

    25 Refusal of access

    ...

    (4) An agency shall not refuse access to an exempt document (including a restricted document that is the subject of a Ministerial certificate):

        (a) if it is practicable to give access to a copy of the document from which the exempt matter has been deleted, and

        (b) if it appears to the agency (whether from the terms of the application or after consultation with the applicant) that the applicant would wish to be given access to such a copy.

    ...
    You could probably write a letter in reply requesting that you be given access to your other raw marks, without incurring any additional review fee - it's something they should have done in relation to your original application.

    I suggest you phone them first. They really should be assisting you with this.
    Lazarus
    Et in arcadia ego...

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    Junior Member ngai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazarus
    They look like HSC marks... did any of your examination or assessment marks fall on the cut-offs?
    Yes those were my HSC marks, but no my exam or assessment marks weren't on cutoffs either..92 & 93, 96 & 94, 94 & 97, 99 & 99, 100 & 100
    oh and I forgot about software design and development, which i did in 2002...i got 84 & 92 for that, which makes hsc mark 88

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    Goooooooooone! Techie's Avatar
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    I also got the same rejection letter . Disappointingly, I can't think of any real reason why - as in, I didn't get any 90s nor any marks in the top 20, they were all 93-97.

    I think, perhaps, they know about Bored? Note the sentence: "The decision-maker has formed the view that granting you access to this information will assist in the determination and then public disclosure of the HSC cut scores seperating the bands on the performance scale for the 2004 HSC."

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    Retired Lazarus's Avatar
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    Intriguing.

    So they've released some marks, and then just spontaneously changed their stance? That's a little dodgey.

    I'll have to think about this. Kind of annoying... undoing all that hard work. Sigh.
    Lazarus
    Et in arcadia ego...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazarus
    Edit: Interestingly, they seem to be assuming that everyone who applies (which could potentially be the entire HSC candidature) is a contributing member of this site. :P
    Perhaps they recognise the standard Bored form and just choose to dismiss any of those requests =P

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    Retired Lazarus's Avatar
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    lol hrmm, good point.
    Lazarus
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    Bugger: I, too, seem to have wasted thirty dollars.

    Quote Originally Posted by 'Crusader' Lazarus
    I really don't know why the Board just doesn't release them. Somehow I don't think the world is going to end if people know what raw mark equates to a particular standard.
    One of the (conscientious) reasons I can think for the Board not wanting to disclose performance band cut-offs is that it may put pressure on the judges who determine the performance band cut-offs to bow to extraneous influence (if a test's performance band cut-offs were publicly released, and then said to be 'too high', the judges may be more inclined to have the cut-offs lower next year).

    Of course, we all believe the judges are the best adjudicator for the performance band cut-offs (unless you are a conspiracy theorist - but that's not too helpful). Still, other loud, opinionated voices may make their voices heard and jeopardize the Board's process.

    But we still have this problem, anyway: with HSC papers. I remember there being an outcry, in 2003, that the mathematics papers were all too difficult for their respective courses. We can't really not release the papers to students: that would be a little impractical!

    Moreover, the Board can't act in isolation. It is a government office and, notwithstanding any extraneous pressure markers, judges, etc., may feel, should be subject to public scrutiny – to an extent; but not so little as to justify a refusal of this kind.

    And, so, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.
    I've got a great idea! Just release the raw marks; don't bother about performance band descriptors. BOS: don't pretend you can give a timeless mark which reflects a student's standard regardless of the test. It's hardly accurate as it is. Release a statistical report along with the mark which communicates how the mark was in comparison to the cohort. The scaling would be the same.

    (What we need, in my opinion, is a Officer of the Board of Studies (NSW) to be registered on the site so he can answer any questions or problems we have and communicate these to the Board efficiently [/wishful thinking].)
    Last edited by Captain pi; 8 Mar 2005 at 4:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain pi
    One of the (conscientious) reasons I can think for the Board not wanting to disclose performance band cut-offs is that it may put pressure on the judges who determine the performance band cut-offs to bow to extraneous influence (if a test's performance band cut-offs were publicly released, and then said to be 'too high', the judges may be more inclined to have the cut-offs lower next year).
    This is a valid argument, but I think it's overshadowed by the fact that judges are already required to support their decisions regarding cut-offs with actual evidence of the standard of work that is being produced by students. According to the Board, they aren't making arbitrary decisions that can simply be changed on a whim. According to the Board, there are numerous checks and procedures already in place to ensure that the judges are making the correct decisions, and aren't being unduly influenced by preconceptions of how marks should be distributed. This was particularly relevant in 2001 - when there were no set standards, and judges were determining distributions for the very first time. The Board has provided assurances that it conducts thorough reviews of how marks are awarded by all judges and that they are not biased by 'external' concerns.

    But aside from that, there have already been widespread community concerns regarding the cut-offs for particular courses from all avenues, including students, teachers, and the media. For two years, the Board was called upon to 'allow' students to attain Band 6 in Standard English. The perception was that the cut-off was too high - and it hadn't even been published! In 2003, only a single student was awarded a mark of 90 in that course. In 2004, again, only a single student was awarded a mark of 90 (a second student had an effective mark of 90 due to rounding). Was the quality of work produced by these two students truly higher than the quality of work produced by the entire Standard English candidatures of 2001 and 2002? Or did the judges feel "pressured" to award at least one Band 6 mark? Who knows.

    And now in 2005 we have the federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson saying that the Band 1/2 cut-off is absurdly low: "I'd like to believe that 99.2 per cent of the students who sat the HSC did pass English but I stopped believing in the tooth fairy when I was about eight." (source) He's probably one of the few people who actually do know what the cut-offs are. If the judges are going to feel pressured by anything, you'd think they'd be pressured by that - even if they're Labor supporters, they're going to have second thoughts.

    The Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training has just recently called for tenders from experts interested in commandeering an investigation into the implementation of an Australian Certificate of Education. The abolition of the NSW Higher School Certificate in favour of a national certificate is currently on the table, and the system is only four years old.

    Surely now more than ever the public interest would warrant disclosure of these cut-off marks. They released them under the old HSC, and no prejudice occurred. The Board hasn't yet presented any substantive arguments - in writing - as to why they can't be released now.

    ...

    Sorry for that rant.


    Quote Originally Posted by Captain pi
    I've got a great idea! Just release the raw marks; don't bother about performance band descriptors. BOS: don't pretend you can give a timeless mark which reflects a student's standard regardless of the test. It's hardly accurate as it is. Release a statistical report along with the mark which communicates how the mark was in comparison to the cohort. The scaling would be the same.
    That's the sort of norm-referenced reporting that was done under the old HSC.

    Of course, if the Board released both raw marks and raw band cut-offs (without ever calculating or referring to 'aligned' marks) then everyone would have the marks that are scaled for their UAI and the Board would still have its standards-referenced system. It would also make explicit the fact that marks and standards aren't comparable between courses - which is an artificial notion introduced by forcing the performance bands in all courses to conform to the same mark ranges.

    Somehow I don't think that's going to happen either. (Thought it's not necessarily the best solution - just an interesting example.)
    Lazarus
    Et in arcadia ego...

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    what i dont get is that there has been so many precendents now for these requests (which should mean they are forced to take all future applications on a similar basis) how can they be allowed to do this; just deny with one of those dodgy excuses.

    lets take those bitches to the high court

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    But pieces of what? Slidey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hasterz
    what i dont get is that there has been so many precendents now for these requests (which should mean they are forced to take all future applications on a similar basis) how can they be allowed to do this; just deny with one of those dodgy excuses.
    It's not a matter of them being allowed to; it's a matter of whether or not we, the students and public, allow them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slide Rule
    It's not a matter of them being allowed to; it's a matter of whether or not we, the students and public, allow them.
    The only problem is that the reason why BOS may fail to release further marks is because students publicise them. However, if students didn't publicise them, then there'd be no point in making the request in the first place - kind of a Catch 22 really.
    BCom/LLB (1st Year) @ UNSW '06

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    so is this whole cause fucked now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hasterz
    so is this whole cause fucked now?
    Not yet. We have a team working on it.

    Patience is a virtue.
    Lazarus
    Et in arcadia ego...

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    Your friendly HSC guide Ragerunner's Avatar
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    Hmm..I can't really see why previous years raw cut-offs will have such a large effect (as exagerrated by the board of studies). Every year, the HSC exam is judged and differs from previous years (well I would hope so), so a new raw cut-off for each subject is established every year.

    Unless a student could get access to their raw marks, raw band cut-offs AND HSC paper, I highly doubt it could cause any troubles....Unless the Board Of Studies is scared that the marking procedure of the papers aren't reliable. e.g. by the 2 students in 2003 and 2004 who achieved a band 6. Unless they were given access to their HSC paper to review, it would hardly cause any trouble releasing their raw band cut-off.

    I didn't look back, but didn't one of your marks in 2001 fall in the band cut off Lazarus ?
    B Science @ UNSW (Major in Psychology)

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    Were all of our submissions reviewed by the same person? David Murphy? Or is EVERYONE denying now?
    Bill

    B Education (Secondary: Humanities and Social Sciences)/B Arts at The University of Sydney

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will_Sparky
    Were all of our submissions reviewed by the same person? David Murphy? Or is EVERYONE denying now?
    Yes, 'twas David Murphy.
    siganture removed due to excessive size

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melz
    Perhaps they recognise the standard Bored form and just choose to dismiss any of those requests =P
    No I filled out a form myself because I had an extra request for itemisation.
    siganture removed due to excessive size

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