Externally moderated school-based assessment in Queensland – How we know that it works

Externally moderated school-based assessment in Queensland – How we know that it works

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Externally moderated school-based assessment in Queensland – How we know that it works

In 1970 the last external Junior (Year 10) examinations were held in Queensland followed by the last external Senior (Year 12) examinations in 1972. Replacing the use of external examinations, a system of internal assessment and moderation, involving a wider range of assessment techniques, was implemented. Initially, this system resulted in teachers assigning students’, grades based on a 7 point norm-referenced rating scale. During the early eighties the system changed from norm-referenced to ‘,standards based’, using five descriptive achievement levels externally moderated by a review panel system of ‘,teacher experts’, for approving school work programs of study based on accredited state-wide syllabuses and verifying students’, achievements for state-wide certification. In recent years in Australia and elsewhere there has been an increasing focus on accountability in education. This has generated an intense interest in student results and the assessment regimes underpinning these. Under the current Federal Government, the establishment of a national Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to oversee and develop national curriculum appears at this stage to exclude any considerations involving a set of national external examinations in some subjects. If it did, then such a move would be at odds with the past 38 years of externally-moderated school based assessment in Queensland secondary school education. All assessment systems face the issue of comparability of results that are reported on certificates of achievement. The Queensland Studies Authority identifies comparability of student results through a process of external moderation with respect to levels of achievement awarded by schools. Students who take the same Queensland Studies Authority subject in different schools and who achieve the same standard through assessment programmes based on a common syllabus, are awarded the same level of achievement. This paper will explore Queensland’,s senior secondary system of externally moderated school-based assessment with respect to the underpinning principles of reliability and validity in an analysis of how comparability of students’, results is ensured.

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