Teaching the Assessment Domain

Assessing students' civics and citizenship knowledge, skills and values: the Discovering Democracy Units and Assessment Resources

The introduction of National Assessment in Civics and Citizenship in 2004 has focused attention on the process of assessing student achievement in civics and citizenship education. The MCEETA Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain consists of:

  • Two Key Performance Measures – which are the ways of measuring the National Goals of Schooling that relate to civics and citizenship education
  • Assessment Domain Descriptors – which broadly describe the knowledge, understandings, skills and dispositions to be assessed
  • a series of dot points for each descriptor, which provide a more detailed analysis of the knowledge, understanding skills and dispositions to be assessed.

The following box lists the Key Performance Measures and the Domain Descriptors for Years 6 and 10. Users should download a copy of the MCEETA Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain in which the details of each of these domain descriptors is described in a series of content, knowledge, skills and dispositions specific dot points. This document is available at: http://www.mceetya.edu.au/taskfrce/civics.htm.

These dot points provide a very precise focus for the planning of teaching and learning activities and construction of assessment tasks that enable students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of these KPMs. These can be referred to when planning teaching and learning programmes and assessing student work.

KPM 1: Civics: Knowledge and Understanding of Civic Institutions and Processes
Knowledge of key concepts and understandings relating to civic institutions and processes in Australian democracy, government, law, national identity, diversity, cohesion and social justice
6.1 Recognise key features of Australian democracy.
6.2 Describe the development of Australian self-government and democracy.
6.3 Outline the roles of political and civic institutions in Australia.
6.4 Understand the purposes and processes of creating and changing rules and laws.
6.5 Identify the rights and responsibilities of citizens in Australia's democracy.
6.6 Recognise that Australia is a pluralist society with citizens of diverse ethnic origins and cultural backgrounds.
10.1 Recognise that perspectives on Australian democratic ideas and civic institutions vary and change over time.
10.2 Understand the ways in which the Australian Constitution impacts on the lives of Australian citizens.
10.3 Understand the role of law making and governance in Australia's democratic tradition.
10.4 Understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a variety of contexts.
10.5 Analyse how Australia's ethnic and cultural diversity contribute to Australian democracy, identity and social cohesion.
10.6 Analyse Australia's role as a nation in the global community.

KPM 2: Citizenship: Dispositions and Skills for Participation
Understandings related to the attitudes, values, dispositions, beliefs and actions that underpin active democratic citizenship.
6.7 Recognise that citizens require certain skills and dispositions to participate effectively in democratic decision-making.
6.8 Identify ways that Australian citizens can effectively participate in their society and its governance.
6.9 Recognise the ways that understanding of and respect for commonalities and differences contributes to harmony.
6.10 Understand why citizens choose to engage in civic life and decision making.
10.7 Understand that citizens require certain knowledge, skills and dispositions to participate effectively in democratic political and civic action.
10.8 Analyse the role of a critical citizenry in Australia's democracy.
10.9 Analyse the relationship between democratic values and social justice as an important aspect of Australia's democratic tradition.
10.10 Analyse the reasons Australians make choices about participating in political and civic processes.

Note: The Year 10 Civics KPMs assume that students have already achieved the Year 6 KPMs.

The Discovering Democracy Assessment Resources

The Discovering Democracy Units contain a range of curriculum materials, which cover the knowledge, understandings, skills and dispositions of the MCEETA Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain Descriptors while the Discovering Democracy Assessment Resources will assist teachers to make informed judgements about students' understanding. The latter will also provide teachers with models for developing other assessment tasks.

All Australian schools received copies of Discovering Democracy Assessment Resources in 2000.

The resources are:

  • Discovering Democracy Middle Primary Units Assessment Resources
  • Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units Assessment Resources
  • Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Units Assessment Resources
  • Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units Assessment Resources.

These resources provide structured assessment activities to use in conjunction with the Discovering Democracy Units from middle primary to middle secondary levels. Assessment tasks address unit indicators of student achievement and State and Territory outcomes in SOSE/HSIE. They are also relevant to the National Civics and Citizenship KPMs. Each task includes a teacher guide, student resource sheets, a marking guide and annotated student work samples.

The tasks are designed to assist teachers to make judgements about student understandings and monitor student progress. They provide a range of assessment models to address different kinds of outcomes.

The introduction in the resources provides advice to teachers about assessment practice in general and about the use of these assessment resources including advice about using the marking guides, the annotated work samples, the assessment principles which underpin the tasks and determining whether judgements are accurate.

The Year 10 KPMs and DD Middle Secondary Units and Assessment Resources

The Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Unit, 'Getting Things Done', provides a clear example of how teachers can address the KPMs through the Discovering Democracy teaching and learning activities and assessment activities. This unit uses the Franklin Dam dispute of the late 1970s and early 1980s to enable students to:

  • identify and evaluate strategies citizens' groups use to achieve political change
  • identify the role of the media in a political dispute
  • justify opinions about how a political dispute was resolved
  • explain the forces which affect party policy or government action in relation to a particular issue.

(Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units, 'Getting Things Done' (p 167). This unit is also available at: http://www.curriculum.edu.au/ddunits/teacher/ms6done.htm).

In the course of this unit teaching and learning activities cover:

  • processes of influencing the views and actions of others through the role of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society and other groups concerned with this dispute.
  • the evolution of a community political debate
  • party political policies and practices and the response of governments to new political issues
  • the resolution of disputes between state and federal governments and the role of the High Court in interpreting the Constitution.
  • the effect of international agreements on the balance of power between state and federal governments
  • the role of media in reporting an issue, influencing public opinion and affecting government action.

The Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units Assessment Resources provides two assessment tasks relating to this unit:

  • a revision chart based on the strategies and actions used by groups (interest groups, and levels of government, political parties, media) involved in the Franklin Dam dispute (pp 69-71)
  • a political speech by a party member about the Franklin Dam issue (p 72).

A marking guide (p 73) provides descriptions of inadequate, satisfactory, sound and sophisticated responses for assessing student work and annotated work samples show examples of a range of student responses in these categories that will support teachers in making on balance judgements about student work.

The Franklin Dam unit and the assessment tasks cover many of the assessment domain dot points outlined in MCEETA Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain document. The following list is not necessarily exhaustive but is an example of how the KPMs and Assessment Domain Descriptors can be met within the framework of this one unit. The complete document is available here.

KPM 1: Civics: Knowledge and Understanding of Civic Institutions and Processes

10.1 Recognise that perspectives on Australian democratic ideas and civic institutions vary and change over time.

  • Understand the role of political parties and lobby groups in a democracy.
  • Understand the role that international declarations and agreements can play in changing perspectives on Australian democratic ideas and institutions.

10.2 Understand the ways in which the Australian Constitution impacts on the lives of Australian citizens

  • Understand how the Constitution is interpreted by the High Court and appreciate the impact these rulings, when applied, have on Australian society and people's daily lives.

10.3 Understand the role of law making and governance in Australia's democratic tradition

  • Understand that protest and open debate have contributed to a relatively peaceful process of legislative and civic change in Australia's democracy.

10.4 Understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a range  of contexts

  • Demonstrate that citizens have the right to address civic issues and present their views, through a range of ways and institutions and at all levels.

KPM 2: Citizenship: Dispositions and Skills for Participation

10.7 Understand that citizens require certain require certain knowledge, skills and dispositions to participate effectively in democratic political and civic action

  • Understand the historical and policy context of a public issue.
  • Analyse a range of arguments and evidence in decision-making.
  • Understand the role of information and communications technologies (ICT) and the media in civic life, and develop critical analysis and communications skills.

10.8 Analyse the role of a critical citizenry in Australia's democracy

  • Understand the importance to democracy of informed and active citizens.
  • Understand the contribution that citizens' engagement makes to Australian society and its freedoms.
  • Understand the impact on a democracy of an active and informed citizenry.

10.9 Analyse the relationship between democratic values and social justice as an important aspect of Australia's democratic tradition

  • Identify and appreciate the democratic values that underpin Australian democracy.

10.10 Analyse the reasons Australians make choices about participating in political and civic processes

  • Identify ways in which Australian citizens can participate actively and effectively in political and civic processes.

Linking the Middle Secondary Units and Assessment Resources to the MCEETA Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain Descriptors

The following table provides a guide to the key links between the Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units, the Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units Assessment Resources and the Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain Descriptors. Readers should refer to the document to see how the detail of the descriptor dot points is addressed in the unit. Each domain descriptor contains dot points and not all of these may necessarily be covered in any particular unit.

Middle Secondary Unit/focus questionsMiddle Secondary Assessment Resources/ assessment tasksDraft Domain Descriptors
Parties Control Parliament
What role do political parties have in Parliament and government?
Who do Australia's political parties represent?
How do political parties select policies and campaign for government?
The party needs you! (p 11)KPM 1:10.1, 10.4, 10.4
KPM 2:10.7, 10.8, 10.10
Human Rights
What are human rights?
Whare did human rights come from?
Where have Australians' human rights come from and how are they protected? (p 58)
Competing rights (p 28)KPM 1: 10.1, 10.4
KPM 2:10.8
Human Rights
What is Australia's record on Indigenous people's rights? (p 67)
Rights denied to Indigenous Australians (p 40)KPM 1: 10.1, 10.2, 10.3
KPM 2: 10.7, 10.9
A Democracy Destroyed
What are features of a healthy democracy?
How and why was democracy lost in Germany?
Which people resisted the Nazis?
What are key features of a democracy and how did the Nazis take them away? How is democracy in Australia protected?
The end of democracyKPM 1:10.1, 10.4
KPM2: 10.7
Making a Nation
Why do people decide that governments should federate?
How do you make a federation work?
Why do federations break apart?
Should Australia become a republic?
A federation of states (p 48)KPM1: 10.1, 10.2, 10.4
What Sort of Nation?
What sort of nation has Australia been? What sort of nation is it today?
How has immigration shaped the kind of nation we are?
What economic factors shape and reflect the kind of nation we are?
What responsibilities do individuals, communities and governments have for the welfare of Australian citizens?
What kind of country do we want Australia to be?
Protection or free trade? (p 57)KPM 1: 10.1, 10.5, 10.6
KPM 2: 10.7
Getting Things Done
How can Australian citizens influence government action?
How do governments and political parties respond to new issues?
How can Australian citizens influence the media and how does the media influence governments and political parties?
How are disputes between state and federal governments resolved?
Franklin Dam dispute (p 69)KPM 1: 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 10.4 and 10.6
KPM 2: 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10

The Year 6 KPMs and DD Upper Primary Units and Assessment Resources

The following table provides a guide to the key links between the Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units, the Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units Assessment Resources and the  Civics and Citizenship Assessment Domain Descriptors.

Upper Primary Unit/focus questionsUpper Primary Assessment Resources/ assessment tasksDraft Domain Descriptors
Parliament versus Monarch
What does it mean to have absolute power?
What is parliament?
What is the difference between 'divine right' and 'citizen's right'?
How has the power moved from the monarch to the people?
How does Australian democracy reflect its British inheritance?
The king rules (p 11)KPM 1: 6.1, 6.2
KPM 2: 6.7
The Law Rules
Should people be equal before the law?
How does the law rule in Australia today?
The rule of law - Myall Creek Trials (p 21)KPM1: 6.1, 6.4
KPM 2: 6.8, 6.9
The Law Rules
How do you get a fair trial?
Who makes the law?
Should the courts be independent?
Should people be equal before the law?
How does the law rule in Australia today?
Fair trials (p 31)KPM1: 6.1, 6.4
KPM 2: 6.8
The People Make a Nation
Was Australia always organised in States and Territories?
What were arguments for and against Federation?
How did the people make the nation?
How does the Australian federal system of government work?
Reaching a decision (p 42)KPM 1: 6.2, 6.3
KPM 2: 6.10
People Power
How did the Freedom Riders escalate the campaign for justice for Aboriginal people?
How did groups of Australian workers bring about improvements in their working conditions?
What have Equal Pay campaigners done to remove some of the discrimination against women in employment?
In what ways can popular movements achieve change?
Community campaigns (p 49)KPM1: 6.1, 6.4, 6.5
KPM2: 6.7, 6.8, 6.10