19 January 2016

Revitalising Senior Assessment & Tertiary Entrance in Queensland Education - Jan 2016 Update

**This post was taken directly from a QCAA presentation**

A new system of senior assessment and tertiary entrance will be rolled out for current Year 9 students when they enter Year 11 in 2018. This system will combine externally moderated school-based assessment with subject-based external assessment. This commitment builds on Queensland’s 40 years of experience in school-based assessment while recognising the important role of external assessment.

New processes will be established to support the quality and comparability of school-based assessments. These include endorsing assessment before it is used with students and new accreditation and calibration processes for reviewers.

Queensland will also replace the OP with the ATAR, in line with all other Australian states and territories.

To support the Queensland Government in finalising the details of the new senior assessment and tertiary entrance system, Education Minister Kate Jones has established a Ministerial Taskforce. It comprises key stakeholders including representatives from Queensland’s university sector, the three schooling sectors, principal associations, parent groups and teacher unions. The Taskforce is expected to complete its work by mid-2016.
To support the introduction of new senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems, the QCAA has developed a planning and implementation timeline that identifies the key activities for students, curriculum, assessment (school-based and external), results and reporting, and support systems.


The new system will start for current Year 9 students when they enter Year 11 in 2018, before graduating in 2019. While there will be limited impact on this cohort in 2016, it is important that students and teachers are aware of the new system and the associated requirements when completing Senior Education and Training (SET) Plans during Year 10 (2017).


Syllabus redevelopment commenced in 2015 with the commissioning of literature reviews for all current senior subject offerings. This research will inform redevelopment work in 2016. For the first time, teachers will have an opportunity to provide feedback on syllabuses as they are being developed. Teachers will then be provided with formal professional learning opportunities during 2017 to support syllabus implementation with Year 11 students in 2018.


To support the introduction of new processes to strengthen the quality and comparability of externally moderated school-based assessment, the QCAA has been trialling a range of initiatives with volunteer schools since 2015. These trials will continue through 2016 and 2017 and will inform the development of new quality assurance processes to be introduced in 2018. In 2016, the QCAA will also trial a number of formative external assessments for Year 11 students. These trials will support the introduction of subject based external assessments for students in Year 12 in 2019.

Results and reporting

Following decisions of the Queensland Government, the QCAA and QTAC will establish the processes for calculating and reporting student achievement in the new system throughout 2016. This includes consideration of the number of assessments that will contribute to a student’s subject result, the information that will be used to determine a student’s ATAR, and how information will be reported to students, parents and community, including changes to the Queensland Certificate of Education. Schools will prepare for the introduction of these new arrangements during 2016 and 2017.


To support a new system of curriculum and assessment in senior schooling, the QCAA will be developing a contemporary web-based system to support schools. The new system will provide access to online syllabuses, teaching and learning resources and will also support moderation and other new quality assurance activities, subject enrolments, student results and certification.

In 2016, Authority syllabuses will be redeveloped to reflect the requirements of the new senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems. This includes new processes for the quality assurance of school-based assessment (for example, the endorsement of school-developed assessments before they are used with students), and the introduction of subject-based external assessment. Syllabuses will clearly define curriculum requirements, the parameters for internal (school-based) and external assessments and specify how assessments combine to produce a subject result.

To support this work, the QCAA is currently seeking nominations from experienced practising teachers. Teachers have the opportunity to engage as a member of a Learning Area Reference Group or an expert writing team. Learning Area Reference Groups provide direction to the writing teams along with feedback on each draft. Writing teams will meet a number of times in 2016 to write the new syllabus and associated assessment requirements. Nominations for the reference groups and writing teams close on Friday 1 February 2016. Details on how to apply are available on the QCAA website and will be available as direct links at the end of this presentation.

Syllabuses will continue to be future-focused and value the skills students need in the 21st century. They will provide opportunities for students to develop discipline understanding across a range of cognitive and knowledge domains.

Teachers will have three opportunities to provide feedback on the syllabuses as they are developed over the course of the year. The redeveloped syllabuses will include senior Australian Curriculum content where available.

Queensland’s 40 years of experience with school-based assessment will inform the development of the new senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems. New processes of accreditation, endorsement and calibration will be introduced to further strengthen the quality and comparability of these assessments.

Accreditation involves formal structured professional learning for school-based reviewers who will undertake quality assurance activities on behalf of the QCAA. Teachers wishing to participate in the quality assurance of school-based assessments will require accreditation prior to being engaged by the QCAA. In 2016, each school will be invited to nominate a teacher to participate in the foundation learning module of the accreditation program. This foundation module will explore the principles of quality assessment and provide all Queensland schools with the opportunity to develop a common and shared assessment literacy.

Endorsement will involve the reviewing of school-based assessments prior to implementation with students. Assessments will be validated against the requirements of the syllabus and reviewed to ensure they provide opportunities for all students to demonstrate the syllabus objectives and standards. During 2016, a range of endorsement trials will ensure all schools have the opportunity to submit a selection of existing assessments for endorsement against current syllabus standards. These preliminary trials will provide schools with the opportunity to access feedback at an instrument level and to further engage with the principles of quality assessment.

Calibration is a process for fine-tuning the judgments of reviewers and teachers to support the consistent application of marks and standards. Calibration involves reviewers examining a range of control (pre-graded) scripts and making a judgment. Reviewer judgments are then checked against the control standard and feedback provided. Calibration trials were held in 2015 and will be extended to include Monitoring meetings in 2016.

Each of these trial activities will strengthen our existing system of school-based assessment and provide the foundations for a new system.

To support the introduction of subject-based external assessment, the QCAA has devised five external assessment instruments for trialling in 2016. These assessments have been developed from existing syllabuses and are designed to replace a school-devised assessment instrument.

In 2015, schools across Queensland were invited to nominate for the trials. All 264 schools received their first preference. The trials will involve nearly 20,000 Year 11 students undertaking one of these five assessments. Further external assessment trials are planned.

The QCAA will pay teachers to mark the assessments. Teachers wishing to mark will be invited to register their interest. Student scripts will be marked through an online portal providing anywhere, anytime marking. Markers will be monitored for accuracy and progress via this portal. Student results will be returned to schools in July. Participation in the trial is not a prerequisite for nominating as a marker.

A range of support materials will be provided to schools and teachers participating in the trials. These materials will provide guidance for teachers on developing an associated unit of work and ensure the parameters of the external assessment are clearly defined and reflect the existing syllabus requirements.

There are many opportunities available for those wishing to participate in the important foundation activities for the new system. These include direct participation in syllabus redevelopment, trial activities and participation in existing QCAA review panels. Current QCAA panellists are engaged in endorsement, accreditation and calibration activities.

What do you think about QCAA's new changes? 

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