25 Aug 2015 | No. 14-15 | Download as PDF 

To: QTU members

Government decisions on senior secondary a good start

The Palaszczuk government’s senior secondary announcement provides a good platform for decision-making on a new senior secondary assessment and tertiary entrance system for Queensland.

The key principle in the outcomes announced by the Queensland Education Minister, Kate Jones, is that final decisions on the form and function of a new system for assessment, reporting and tertiary entrance should not be rushed and must be developed through collaboration with key stakeholders. The government has set an implementation timeline that will see students entering year 11 in 2018 begin their senior secondary studies under the new model.

Any new system will feature:

  1. a combination of existing school-based assessments and the introduction of external assessment to form an overall subject result (note that “assessment” does not necessarily mean “exam”)
  2. processes strengthening the quality and comparability of school-based assessment
  3. a transition from the current OP system to an Australian tertiary admissions rank (ATAR).

The government’s announcement identifies a substantial body of work that needs to be completed well in advance of the move to a new system. Complex issues, such as the form and percentage contribution of external assessment to subject results, processes for judging and recording student achievement and the methodology for calculating student ATARs, must be fully explored and settled before the QTU can formulate a comprehensive response to the government proposals.

To facilitate collaboration on these important decisions, the Minister will convene and chair a Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce. The QTU will be represented on this taskforce by Vice-President Sam Pidgeon.

The government has also announced an allocation of $4.5 million in 2015-16 to allow the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) to trial new senior assessment processes, including the development and use of external assessment items and new processes to support quality and comparability in school-based assessment, such as the “endorse before use” trials that have already commenced.

A detailed government position on the new senior secondary system will be developed in mid-2016 following this consultation and trialling.

QTU position

QTU State Conference determined that the QTU position in negotiations around a new senior assessment and tertiary entrance system would be characterised by the following.

  • If external assessment is introduced in a subject area, school-based assessment should represent a minimum of 75 per cent of the subject result, with external assessment making up to a maximum of 25 per cent of the overall subject result.

  • Registered practicing teachers are best placed to determine the mix of school-based and external assessment in each subject area, and the QTU calls on the government to adequately resource expert subject groups, with proportionate QTU representation, to make recommendations on this issue.

  • The introduction of external assessment will be costly and workload intensive. Schools and the QCAA must be adequately resourced to complete the work required, including paid release for teachers to work on consultative groups, attend professional development, and time to modify curriculum documents such as specific subject area syllabi and school-based work programs.

  • The QTU opposes the use of external assessment to scale student results from school-based assessment, as it would undermine and erode the value of school-based assessment.

    The full QTU position is available here.  

QCT Board Election

Vote for QTU endorsed candidates Alota Lima and Natalie Clarke in the election for practicing teachers on the Queensland College of Teachers Board. The ballot closes 18 September. For more information see Newsflash No. 12-15.

Pay rise

The 2.08% pay increase for Queensland state school teachers will be paid on 16 September, according to the department. The pay rise takes effect from 1 September, 2015. 

For more information see Newsflash No. 13-15.  


 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union