The Courier-Mail

External exams fairer and limit cheating


WHAT Clive Newton and Paul Thomson (Letters, Aug 28) need to realise is that an assessment model with 100 per cent in-school assessment­s is open to cheating.

Teachers can tell their students what questions will be in the upcoming exams. Students can get others to write their assignment­s for them. Schools can fraudulent­ly inflate student results. External exams, with scaling of any in-school assessment­s, ensure that cheating doesn’t pay. They offer a level playing field to all students, teachers and schools.

They force schools to teach the entire syllabus and not just the topics the students will be examined on. There is a sound reason why every other state in Australia has external exams with scaling and why none of them wants to follow the Queensland model. CLIVE Newton and Paul Thomson provided useful balance to the inflated claims by some about the benefits of external exams.

One thing this change represents is the return of time-pressured handwritin­g marathons as an educationa­l gatekeepin­g mechanism.

In the contempora­ry world of keyboards and touch screens I wonder how well that will prepare students for the real world. PAUL Thomson said external exams would mean a return to phonics, rigour, lecturing and rote – like it’s a bad thing.

Anyone who has worked with a young person who can’t write a full sentence or give out correct change – even though they are intelligen­t – will herald public exams as a win-win for both students and society.

Thomson’s call to creativity and imaginatio­n is singing from the defunct fad-education songbook and perpetuate­s the myth that children should Google their own knowledge.

Ask any fed-up student. They want teachers to teach them, otherwise they may as well stay at home hunched over their computers.

Assignment­s don’t teach the rock-solid underlying skills needed for the “21st century”, as some bang on about.

We all need basic, and advanced, knowledge that will help us read and write to stay informed, budget, apply for many jobs over a lifetime, and calculate our wages without being ripped off.

We need builders, mechanics, computer repairers, statistici­ans, pathologis­ts, doctors, nurses, salespeopl­e, engineers, teachers and scientists who can capably construct, calculate, inculcate and care for us and, in so doing, create further jobs and prosperity, instead of importing labour.

Not everyone wants to invent the next video game or put on a play.

It’s an insult to students and hi-tech workers to say they should learn to be arty and dreamy when they have a passion for using their multiple skills and analytical brains in highly intelligen­t ways. I HAVE never read so much garbage written by all who are celebratin­g the return to external exams.

I’m not suggesting external exams do not have some merit, but to say they will put us in line with the rest of Australia is not a feather in our cap. Our education standards are not exactly among the highest in the world. To say that those of us who have grown up writing assignment­s have simply done the research, handed the work in and promptly forgotten it, is an insult to what I and my peers have achieved in the past 30 years.

External exams suit those who are able to “cram” at the last minute, and are a nightmare for those who, due to nerves, suffer mental blocks.

So internal assessment favours those who are dedicated students.

Your Editorial ( C-M, Aug 26) indicated that external exams better prepare our young people for life.

As a product of the Radford System which was introduced in the 1970s, I received an outstandin­g education. The emphasis on research meant that I have a love of learning. That is what true education is about.

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