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Still more on senior school assessment

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 9 February 2015

An edited version of the following letter was published in The Courier-Mail of Monday 9 February 2015. Underlined words were deleted and bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "School-based tests better".

1950s style exams don't suit 21st century

Norman Hunter (Letters, Feb 6) is to be commended for sensibly reminding readers that it would be unwise to update Queensland's tertiary entrance system by a knee-jerk reversion (reverting) to an outmoded past in the form of external examinations (exams).

If the Core Skills Test is to abandoned, it would be appropriate to substitute some alternative form of external assessment but this should be a minor component, worth no more than 25% (per cent).

External exams are high pressure, one-off activities while school-based assessment involves tasks done under a variety of conditions at several points in the academic year.

In the digital age, pen and paper handwriting marathons are not the appropriate way to measure student learning in quite a few subject areas.

And if there is to be any scaling, external results should be scaled against moderated school-based assessment, not the other way around.

Part of the previous government's response to the report of the Australian Council for Educational Research review was that some of the proposed new procedures be trialled in maths and science subjects. It is imperative that any trial also involves some humanities and social science subjects as well. Otherwise, we could end up with a system that does not suit a large chunk of the curriculum.

Garry Collins
Immediate Past President, English Teachers Association of Queensland

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
Tags: Assessment

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