To understand student achievement within a learning area, we can divide the measurement scale into 'Achievement Bands' or proficiency levels.
These bands describe what student achievement typically looks like at each level.
The difficulty of test items and the ability of students who respond correctly to those items are directly related.
For example, we expect a very able student to correctly respond to difficult items and, in turn, the difficulty of those items lets us estimate the overall achievement of that student and express it as a scale score which then places the student within a described band.
When students respond to test items assessing certain skills and knowledge, their achievement in the learning area can be estimated at the corresponding position along the scale.
The descriptions of typical achievement are drawn directly from the skills and content assessed by items at each level.
We can expect our students to have some proficiency in the skills and knowledge described at their Achievement Band and be progressively more proficient with those outlined in lower bands.
Students whose scale scores are in the same Achievement Band are operating at approximately the same level, regardless of their year level or age. They are also likely to require similar support to assist them to grow.
In this way, the described Achievement Bands help us better understand students’ current skills and knowledge and provide a guide to the next steps in supporting their continued learning.
Progressive Achievement scales and described achievement bands form a learning progression that outlines how skills and knowledge are typically accumulated and refined over a student’s learning journey.