There’s no doubt that this will be the biggest and most monumental change to Queensland secondary schooling since the 90s. And of course, as with any change, there is a sense of apprehension about preparing our systems and our students for the change. In some cases there is resistance to this change, in other schools, early adoption and a willingness to see the benefits of having Queensland education in line with all other Australian states and territories.


Confused? Students feeling anxious about external exams?

Are your staff ready? Have you considered the impact on students and staff?

Need some time and space for wellness and calm? Find out about our programs here.

Let us explain some things about the huge changes that are coming…

For many years, Queensland education has somewhat operated as a maverick to the rest of the country adopting the Overall Position (OP) system in the early 90s. In 2020 the pathway to tertiary studies for Queensland students will change and the hope is that as a result, schools will have a clearer understanding of student outcomes, which in turn will be more easily comparable across the country and around the world.

Students currently in Year 11 will be the first to graduate under the new system which will still see them finish with a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). However, up until these changes, Queensland teachers of Senior students would meet with other teachers and compare pieces of assessment, moderate their levels of achievement and adjust where necessary - seems rather archaic (and subjective!) right?!

The new process will be vastly different whereby verified school-based assessment items (set and marked by teachers) combined with external exams (developed and marked y QCAA) will result in an ATAR score upon graduation. This will shift Queensland schools from an OP and QCS based pathway to an ATAR score which is easily comparable across Australian schools and universities, allowing student outcomes to be clear and deeply understood.

Perhaps a more equitable way? Or is it more consistency and transparency in school curriculum programs and the accompanying assessment?

Still confused?!

The Difference Between OP and ATAR

OP ranks are based on the results of five senior Authority subjects and rank students between one and 25 (with one being the highest score).

ATAR is a more inclusive ranking, which can also include a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification or Subject Area Syllabus (SAS) subject. Currently the OP system doesn’t include VET or SAS. ATAR rankings also place students between 0 and 99.95 (with 99.95 being the highest).

Overall, an OP is a broad ranking, while an ATAR is a “fine-grained” score. For example, a student who achieves an ATAR of 94.35, would equate to either an OP1 or OP2 currently, depending upon the overall cohort.

 Calculating the ATAR

An ATAR is a percentile ranking of a student’s overall achievement out of all potential Year 12 school students. This group includes all OP-eligible and ineligible students, as well as those people not in senior schooling. All potential Year 12 students are used due to the fact that each state and territory calculates its local tertiary rank differently.

 The Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Test

The Queensland Core Skills test will be abolished. ATARs will be calculated by comparing student results only. Instead of the QCS test there will be a process of inter-subject scaling.

Currently, OPs are calculated by comparing results in Authority subjects as well as the results from the QCS test. The final QCS test will be held in 2019.

Under the new system, students complete four pieces of assessment per subject. Of these, three will be school-based assessments and one will be externally set and graded.

 How the ATAR System Works

The ATAR will be used when you apply to degree programs at universities through the Queensland Tertiary Admission Centre (QTAC). This admissions process hasn’t changed.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) will continue to be a key part of the new QCE system. In the new system, achievement of a VET Certificate III or above, in combination with results in general subjects, can contribute to the calculation of an ATAR. This approach recognises the role that VET plays in senior studies, while also ensuring that students have a sufficient breadth of academic subjects to cope with the demands of tertiary study.

 Why Has Queensland Been Different Until Now?

The OP system was introduced in 1992. In a report released in 2014, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) found that while existing arrangements had served Queensland

students well and remained fair and reliable, they would not be sustainable over the longer term. ACER recommended changes to achieve greater rigour and simplicity.

There was also strong support among Queensland universities for eligible Year 12 students to be provided with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) rather than an Overall Position (OP).

Choosing Your Subjects

Students should choose subjects according to their learning goals and what they enjoy, while paying close attention to the prerequisite requirements of the courses they’re considering for tertiary study.

QTAC has set up My Path, an innovative tool that helps Year 10 students choose their senior subjects, determine their ATAR eligibility and check whether their senior subject selection will meet prerequisites for courses they may want to pursue after Year 12.

 (Above extract from StudyGoldCoast)

 Want to find out more about the changes? Continue reading here

 Do your students and staff need some strategies for managing stress, change and anxiety? Book a session with us today!