As I write this I am ‘recovering’ from the day’s long supervision of the Qld Core Skills Test, which all OP eligible Year 12 students in Queensland currently must sit. It is a long day of watching, and in some ways I’d rather be taking the exam than viewing someone else’s struggles over three and a half hours of Multiple Choice Questions and extended Writing Task. Today’s Writing was on the Topic, ‘What feeds us?’ The next day is the Short Response Items (paragraph writing), followed by the second Multiple Choice test. The QCS Test has been the primary source of comparison of student academic performance in Queensland since 1992. Comparability of academic performance is also achieved with District Panel moderation of student in-school assessments. The QCS Test results can modify in-school assessment grades’ values, confirming, raising or lowering, depending on school group QCS Test scores. It tests an externally set range of academic skills, not a year’s information content to be examined in a two hour set of essays with students in isolation. It is a very demanding, very clever, and very thorough examination. I do fear the view that Queensland doesn’t have any external testing so OP results are in some way inferior in validity to those achieved in two or three hour full year course, essay writing tasks, whispered from the south. Both systems have their strengths over the other, and their weaknesses that can be moderated or neglected, to exacerbate any effects. I have no doubt that Qld’s OPs have provided very reliable ranking of student performance, particularly aiming for tertiary entrance, since 1992. 

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