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1.2 Key elements of the QCE system

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The QCE system continues Queensland’s decades-long tradition of involving teachers in all stages of the assessment process. This teacher involvement enables quality learning experiences for all students and strengthens Queensland’s culture of building teacher assessment literacy. It effectively balances the following features of a quality assessment system:

  • quality syllabuses prescribing content, standards and assessment, and situating assessment as an integral part of the learning process while allowing some flexibility in how learning is delivered
  • judicious continuous assessment using a variety of assessment techniques so a body of evidence of achievement is collected over time, allowing students to progressively demonstrate the depth and breadth of their learning and accommodating their different learning styles
  • opportunities for learning to develop so students receive timely feedback and teachers have sufficient and suitable evidence of what students have achieved in relation to all the valued knowledge, understanding and skills prescribed in the syllabus and can make defensible judgments about achievement
  • adequate resourcing to support teachers and schools to participate in the system in a way that improves their confidence and the learning of their students
  • stakeholder confidence that the system delivers fair and transparent outcomes for all students and that the processes used, the information obtained, and the decisions made are valid and reliable.

1.2.1 Preparing for senior schooling

Year 10 is the start of the senior phase of learning. In Year 10, students make important decisions about their senior secondary schooling and education, training and career goals.

Schools work with students and their parents/carers to develop a senior education and training (SET) Plan. This process can support students to reflect on and make important decisions about:

  • structuring their learning in Years 11 and 12 around their abilities, interests and ambitions
  • mapping their pathway to a QCE or, if eligible, a QCIA.

Year 10 is the final year of the Australian Curriculum, which forms the foundation knowledge and skills required for senior schooling.

Schools design and deliver their Year 10 program to ensure students:

  • complete the P–10 Australian Curriculum prerequisite knowledge and skills
  • receive the necessary advice, guidance and preparation to start senior studies

Schools may support students’ preparation for senior studies by:

  • identifying opportunities within the Year 10 Australian Curriculum to introduce concepts and skills that provide a foundation for the corresponding senior syllabus (for Years 11 and 12)
  • selecting and modifying the assessment techniques and conditions from the senior syllabus to gather evidence of student learning in the corresponding Year 10 Australian Curriculum achievement standard and standard elaborations
  • building understanding and skills necessary for success in the senior syllabus by identifying the underpinning factors and their alignment to the corresponding general capabilities in the Year 10 Australian Curriculum
  • addressing students’ individual needs through differentiation.

Schools also open online learning accounts for students. For more information about senior pathway planning, see About the QCE.

1.2.2 Learning options

When designing a course of study, students may choose from a range of subjects and programs that includes:

  • General and General Extension subjects
  • Applied subjects, including Essential English and Essential Mathematics
  • Short Courses
  • General (Senior External Examination) subjects
  • recognised studies
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses
  • school-based apprenticeships and traineeships
  • university subjects.

General and Applied subjects are organised into four units. Units 1 and 2 are foundational learning, for students to begin engaging with the course subject matter and to experience the objectives of the syllabus and assessment techniques. Units 3 and 4 consolidate student learning, with the assessment results for these units contributing to the final subject result and tertiary entrance rank. Typically, students begin senior studies in Year 11. General (Extension) subjects are organised into Units 3 and 4 only, and have a subject prerequisite for the Unit 1 and 2 learning.

1.2.3 Assessing achievement

Subject results in General subjects are based on student achievement in four summative assessments: three internal assessments and one external assessment that the QCAA sets and marks.

In General subjects, the internal assessment contributes 75% to the final subject result except in Mathematics and Sciences subjects, where it contributes 50%.

Subject results in Applied subjects are based on student achievement in four internal assessments. For Essential English and Essential Mathematics, one of these assessments is externally set but school-administered.

Internal assessment instruments for all General subjects, and for the Applied Essential English and Essential Mathematics subjects, are endorsed by the QCAA before being used for summative purposes in schools. Separate quality assurance procedures are used for other Applied subjects.

The QCAA confirms the grades awarded by schools in General subjects by reviewing a selected sample of student work for every subject in every school. Separate quality assurance procedures are used to review results awarded by schools for Applied subjects and Short Courses.

External assessment is included in all General subjects, but is not used to scale a student’s internal assessment result. Instead, the external assessment result is added to the internal assessment result to arrive at a final subject result.

1.2.4 Results and certificates

In General subjects, the final subject result is expressed as a numerical value and an A–E grade. In Applied subjects and Short Courses, only A–E grades are used.

Students become eligible for a QCE when they have accrued the set amount of learning, at the set standard, in a set pattern, while meeting literacy and numeracy requirements.

For students seeking to continue their studies after school, their final results from a combination of five General subjects, or four General subjects and one Applied subject or vocational qualification, are used by QTAC to calculate an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for tertiary selection purposes. Results for Short Courses do not contribute to ATAR calculations.

Information on the ATAR is available on the QTAC website.

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