In 2012, QLD introduced the new ACARA syllabuses across all core strands and primary and junior secondary year levels. Many of us were excited by the challenge ahead and other more weathered souls were apprehensive of how we would face the many challenges it would present. I was lucky enough that my education department developed comprehensive resources to help guide us through our first year until we could refine based on what we had learnt. In 2017, we are still adjusting and learning how best to implement the curriculum, 5 years to achieve what is still not perfect and what will likely need further refinement in the years to come does not necessarily bode well for the further changes to high school curriculum.
In 2019, QLD will introduce the new senior ACARA syllabuses across all subjects. This time I am one of those apprehensive leaders patiently waiting to understand the full scope of how it will all work.
If you have been following for a little while you might have noticed that I like to plan and with so many unknowns planning is hard. With the introduction of these new syllabuses not only will teachers will be faced with a change in content breadth and depth in many subjects but the way that we assess our students and determine their exit scores is going to change from how it has been for the last 30 years (The OP system was introduced in 1987).
One of the most concerning changes for teachers in mathematics and science is that 50% of a student’s result will come from an external set of exams at the end of year 12. Unlike systems in other states this exam is not expected to be used as a scaling tool for the other 50% of a student’s result. While the emphasis placed on the mathematics and science end of year assessment is substantial, other subjects contributing to an ATAR will have at least 25% of their results determined by the final piece of assessment in year 12.
Why is this so concerning? In QLD students sit only one external exam in senior, this exam is the QCS (Queensland Core Skills Test). Where this experience differs from the new format is that how students perform on this test does not directly impact their individual achievement. QLD students have never been trained to sit for an external exam nor do they know how to prepare for it.