The Courier-Mail

Queensland school assessment cannot stay in class of its own

- PATRICK F. WHALEN

SO QUEENSLAND is finally going back to external examinatio­ns. This will almost bring it into line with the other states. It’s been a long battle for a group of dedicated educators and parents to effect this change.

Many of these dedicated people have been voicing their concerns over the past few years with myriad letters to the editor here in this paper, meetings with politician­s, and even a doorknocki­ng campaign.

In the 2013 Parliament­ary Inquiry into assessment of Mathematic­s and Science, more than 83 per cent of all submission­s by teachers and parents asked for a return to external examinatio­ns, as all other states use. Instead of accepting the recommenda­tions, then education minister John-Paul Langbroek initiated a further review, this one by the Australian Council of Educationa­l Research. In September, 2014, the reviewers recommende­d replacing Queensland’s unique Overall Position (OP) system with yet another method employing a highly experiment­al assessment system that has never been used elsewhere. The question I have to ask is why have Queensland’s educationa­l bureaucrat­s and politician­s been so fearful of external examinatio­ns until now?

When I taught in Queensland two years ago, it was the first time in my 42year teaching career that I experience­d a nonexamina­tion environmen­t. I have taught high school mathematic­s in Boston, New York City, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, before teaching in Queensland. In all previous systems in which I taught, external examinatio­ns were standard practice. Even going back to my own high school days, I faced New York State Regents exams from Years 9 to 12. Nowhere else have I

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