The way awards for WA's top students - including the prestigious Beazley Medal - are calculated will no longer include work done at school but on exam results to guard against perceptions some schools give students an unfair advantage.

School-based assessments combined with exam marks have been used since 2010 to help decide winners of the Beazley Medal, general exhibitions, course exhibitions and certificates of excellence.

Schools often promote these awards widely.

_The West Australian _understands some principals raised concerns with the School Curriculum and Standards Authority that the way awards were calculated could be perceived as unfair.

Chief executive Allan Blagaich said it decided to stop using school work in the awards from 2016 to make sure they were based on the same assessment tasks for all students.

"While syllabuses contain assessment guidelines, schools don't do exactly the same assessments," he said.

"At the extreme top end of the assessment scale, a very small variation in marks can be the difference in a student being awarded a general exhibition or a course exhibition."

He said it would be fairer to use scaled examination scores to identify award winners.

School marks will still count towards a student's Australian tertiary admission rank.

SCSA last week released changes to the WA Certificate of Education and revised senior secondary courses to be rolled out to Year 11 from next year.

Under the changes, students can choose between university-bound courses that give them an ATAR and general courses aimed at entry to work or further study.

Even though the general courses have been labelled "non-examination courses", students will still have to do short exams.

To be known as "externally set tasks", the hour-long assessments will check that grades awarded in one school are the same as in another.

The results will count towards 15 per cent of a Year 12 student's final course mark. "It is imperative that there is public confidence in school-based grades for non-examination courses to maintain the credibility of certification," Mr Blagaich said.

The West Australian

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