Dimension: curriculum planning and assessment

This dimension is part of the Excellence in Teaching and Learning priority and is identified as a high-impact​​ Improvement Initiative.



Students and their learning needs are at the centre of effective curriculum planning and assessment. This principle enables teachers to devise experiences to develop lifelong learners and responsible citizens. This dimension is underpinned by a shared set of values and clear purposes for teaching and learning.

Curriculum planning and assessment recognise that learning occurs along a continuum. This allows teachers to embed relevant formative and summative assessment strategies into classroom practice. Students have opportunities to reflect on and direct their learning, offering insights into the curriculum, teaching and assessment practices.

Improvement measures

Results from system surveys, available in Panorama, can be used to measure progress, and as success indicators. Suggested surveys include:

  • School Staff Survey – the 'guaranteed and viable curriculum', 'collaborate and plan curriculum' and 'use data for curriculum planning' factors
  • Attitudes to School Survey – the 'effective teaching time' and 'differentiated learning challenge' factors
  • Parent Opinion Survey – the 'effective teaching' factor. Individual questions on assessment and differentiation may also provide proxy measures for schools.

Growth in NAPLAN data (Top 2 Bands, Benchmark Growth) and trends in VCE scores can be used as long-term measures of school improvement efforts in curriculum planning and assessment. In the short term, formative assessment and teacher judgement can be used to identify the learning level of each student based on evidence of what the students knows and can do, and to understand what each student is ready to learn next.

Supporting resource

Whole School guide to curriculum planning


The Continuum for Curriculum planning and assessment describes a range of proficiency levels (Emerging, Evolving, Embedding and Excelling) that assist principals and teachers to identify areas of practice that require attention in order to deliver improved student outcomes.

Component: The curriculum plan is developed, documented and monitored

Leaders establish processes to document the curriculum for the whole school, and to monitor its implementation through PDP processes. Teachers consider student achievement data when developing the school’s curriculum plan. Teachers individually plan their lessons based on the Victorian Curriculum. Teachers developing the school’s curriculum plan understand the School Strategic Plan (SSP) and Annual Implementation Plan (AIP), together with areas for improvement. Leaders conduct a whole-school audit of the current curriculum plan in preparation for documenting the curriculum plan. Leaders analyse student data and identified priority areas aligned to the SSP and AIP as part of a whole-school audit and preparation for documentation of the curriculum plan.

Teachers analyse prior learning, engagement and achievement data, and consider the needs of student cohorts and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) when developing the curriculum plan. Teachers cooperate informally to develop the curriculum based on the year level and curriculum area, using the Victorian Curriculum and senior secondary curriculum. Leaders schedule opportunities for teachers engaged in developing the school’s curriculum plan to work together in curriculum area teams on stages of learning. Teachers align curriculum plans to the school’s FISO priority areas for focus, clearly identified in the SSP and AIP. Teacher teams use student achievement data to effectively monitor and review the curriculum plan, teaching and learning, and assessment strategies.

Teachers developing the school’s curriculum plan are informed by a comprehensive analysis of student achievement data across the whole school, within learning areas and year levels, as well as for student cohorts and individual students. Leaders establish formal processes so that teachers in PLCs/ PLTs are contributing to reviewing, developing and documenting the school’s curriculum plan. Leaders audit the curriculum plan to identify areas that need to be reviewed. The audit is aligned to the SSP, AIP and identified FISO priority areas. Leaders monitor the effectiveness of programs in meeting students’ learning goals and needs, drawing on a range of evidence.

Students and teachers collaborate regularly and, use data rigorously, as part of the school’s curriculum development and documentation processes. Leaders establish collaborative curriculum planning processes that includes students to produce a school-wide sequential curriculum plan. Students, teachers and leaders design, implement and review a curriculum plan that addresses the full range of learning needs, providing coherence and continuity across all learning areas, capabilities and stages of learning. Leaders seek opportunities to extend and broaden the curriculum experiences of students through links to the ‘world of work’, networks and specialist state-wide curriculum agencies. Leaders and teachers share their expertise with and learn from other schools as part of a network and/or Community of Practice.

Component: There is a holistic approach to curriculum and assessment linked to pedagogy

Teachers drafting the school’s curriculum plan identify curriculum, pedagogy and assessment as separate aspects. Teachers drafting the school’s curriculum plan reference pedagogical practice based on their current knowledge, teaching experience and teaching style. Teachers developing the school’s assessment plan analyse and use summative assessment and reporting. Leaders ensure that the PDP process privileges the development and documentation of the teaching and learning program to be implemented in classes. Teachers individually use formative and summative assessment based on the Victorian Curriculum.

Teachers drafting the school’s curriculum plan integrate learning areas and capabilities, pedagogy and assessment into a sequential program of learning. Teachers documenting the school’s whole-school pedagogical practice focus on aspects that are evidence-based. Teachers developing the school assessment plan ensure that it includes summative assessment and formative learning, and processes which assist consistent teacher judgement. Teachers use student feedback to reflect on lesson content, structure and student engagement.

Leaders oversee teachers’ development of the curriculum plan to ensure a clear relationship between curriculum standards, learning goals, learning activities and assessment strategies. Leaders and teachers ensure that curriculum planning reflects student achievement against the standards for curriculum areas, stages of learning and student backgrounds and needs. Students’ views and priorities about curriculum content, delivery and assessment are integrated by teachers into their practice. Teachers closely follow the Teaching and Learning Program (Unit Plan), setting out a clear schedule for delivery.

Students, teachers and leaders evaluate and modify the curriculum plan based on an established, ongoing process and cycle of review and comprehensive feedback. Leaders draw on quality assurance processes and students’ views to ensure that evidence-based high-impact teaching and assessment practices are sustained by all teachers. Leaders monitor the curriculum plan to ensure that it fully integrates learning areas and capabilities, and pedagogy and assessment, into a coherent, sequential and developmental program of learning. Students investigate the meaning and implications of data to inform the monitoring and review of the curriculum plan.

Whole-school guide to curriculum planning

A whole-school guide to curriculum planning is available to support teachers, instructional leaders and school leaders to plan and implement the curriculum at every layer of the school. Using the FISO improvement cycle, the guide presents a series of guiding questions and key actions to support planning for the whole school, for a curriculum area or year level, and for units and lessons. The guide also provides links to an extensive range of resources, case studies and templates that schools can use when planning curriculum to improve student outcomes.

Case studies

To see examples of how schools in Victoria are implementing the FISO dimension: Curriculum planning and assessment see: Curriculum planning and assessment case studies.

Evidence base

To view the evidence base for the FISO excellence in teaching and learning priority area see: Evidence - Excellence in teaching and learning evidence base


Why should my school engage with this improvement initiative?

Curriculum planning and assessment for learning have been shown to have a significant impact on student outcomes over time. Learners need information regarding how they are doing in order to improve. Parents and carers need information through timely and effective reporting to better support learners' needs. Teachers can increase their support of students by keeping track of students' progress and giving them feedback on how far they have come and what they can do to get better. Feedback and formative assessment, in combination provide teachers and students with the information they need to identify if they are on-track. Teachers can also teach students how to evaluate their own learning with metacognitive strategies that assist students to self-regulate their learning.  

Data from assessment tools provide valuable diagnostic information to inform program planning and resource allocation. This information can also be a powerful tool to help parents/carers understand their child's knowledge and skills, and the approaches taken by the school to enable learning and development.

How will my school know if we should focus on this improvement initiative?

Consider the following:

  • Do teachers know if a concept or key skill is not mastered?  When they do, do they have a response and/or strategies to deal with it?
  • Is there an agreed and documented curriculum, with identified key concepts and skills for learning? Is there also a defined scope and sequence?
  • To what extent does the school have a consistently implemented planning document that includes a detailed assessment schedule?
  • What monitoring do you use to identify the impact of your current programs?
  • To what extent are students achieving targeted growth?
  • Do teachers have clarity about the learning intention of each class/unit and is this conveyed clearly to all students?
  • What degree of clarity do learners and/or teachers have around the purpose or outcomes of their work?
  • To what extent does the school regularly report student progress to parents and carers?
  • To what extent does the school have a data management system in place for the effective management of assessment data?
What can my school focus on?
  • Data literacy, including the ability to understand, interpret and analyse a range of data, including NAPLAN data, other externally sourced data sets, including VCAA OnDemand assessment tools, and qualitative data.
  • Comparing and triangulating available data to create a rich understanding of the learning landscape and student outcomes.
  • Planning for consistency and moderating student assessment.
  • Presenting  available data to various stakeholders.
  • Creating common assessment tools to enable teacher moderation.
  • Developing/modifying student learning plans based on assessment results.
  • Differentiating lesson plans to accommodate the range of needs and abilities.
  • Eliciting constructive feedback from students to ascertain their level of understanding.
Where to next?

If your school chooses to focus on this Improvement Initiative, the specific tasks below may assist with the development of actions that will support effective curriculum planning and assessment protocols.

  • Use the Victorian Curriculum achievement standards to design programs and monitor student progression
  • Develop expertise in diagnosis and setting goals
  • Use student assessment data and other feedback - including feedback from students, parents/carers, other teachers and school leaders - to evaluate student progress and the impact of their teaching
  • Regularly monitor and adjust learning programs based on the analysis of performance data and other information sources
  • Moderate assessments of students' learning to ensure they are based on consistent professional judgements and evaluate the impact on student learning
  • Develop expertise in facilitating peer evaluation and self-evaluation among students
  • Use evidence-based professional learning programs that support high performance and increase data literacy and understanding of how to measure the impact of teaching programs and effective professional learning programs
  • Ensure time and funding is available for regular teacher collaboration
  • Use a peer observation model to identify the professional learning needs of individuals.

More information

For more information, see: Excellence in teaching and learning priority