Senior schooling overhaul

Queensland students entering Year 12 in 2020 will be the first to graduate under historic changes to the state’s senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems after the Queensland Government pushed out the start date by 12 months.

Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones, flanked by the state’s key education stakeholders including the Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network and Independent Schools Queensland, announced that further time would be required to “deliver the most significant changes to senior schooling in more than 40 years”.

Ms Jones said she had acted on advice from the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) which was overseeing the design and implementation of the new senior schooling system in consultation with key education groups.

“I want what is best for Queensland students so I will take the advice of our key education stakeholders and won’t risk rushing this reform process,” Ms Jones said.

The Queensland Government has approved a range of reforms to senior schooling:

  • The Overall Position (OP) score is being replaced by the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) which is a finer-grained system already used in other states and territories
  • ATARs will be calculated from a student’s best five subjects which can be all Authority subjects, or four Authority subjects plus one Vocational Education and Training qualification or Subject Area Syllabus (SAS) subject
  • Senior subject results will be based on four assessments – one external assessment and three school-based assessments
  • External assessment will contribute 25 percent of a student’s final subject result in most cases, except in maths and science subjects where it will contribute 50 percent
  • An English subject will be compulsory for all senior students, with those studying for an ATAR required to achieve at least a satisfactory or sound achievement in English.

Queensland students entering Year 12 in 2019 will be the last to graduate under the existing system and the last to receive an Overall Position (OP).

Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network Executive Officer Sue Kloeden said parents would have more time to talk with their schools about the changes and what they mean for the future subject selections and career choices of their sons and daughters.

“The senior years are a critical period in a young person’s life and lay the foundation for their future after school. Parents rely on schools to keep them up to date with important education changes and how they will impact their children,” Ms Kloeden said.

Extending the implementation timeframe for the introduction of the biggest reforms to Queensland’s senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems in 40 years will give the Queensland Government and schools the opportunity to “get them absolutely right”, according to Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ).

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said the start date extension allowed more time for aspects of the new system to be trialled and any potential issues ironed out.

“Queensland parents, students, schools and the wider community have a good understanding and level of confidence in the way Queensland senior students are currently assessed, their achievements reported on, and where eligible, ranked for tertiary entrance,” Mr Robertson said.

“It’s critical that we ensure the rigour and high standards of our current senior system are strengthened and built on by the new system to give all Year 11 and 12 students the opportunity to achieve their best and realise their goals after school,” he said.

Mr Robertson said while independent schools were fully engaged and already well advanced in preparing for the senior schooling reforms, the additional year would ensure they had more time to plan and prepare staff and students for the changes.

“The Government’s assessment that a further 12 months is required to successfully implement the reforms should ensure that the changes will be implemented without any issues and that staff and students are fully prepared and ready for the new system.”

Click here to download a fact sheet for parents on the changes.

Click here for more information prepared by the Department of Education and Training.

Click here for more advice from the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority.