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The QCE Achievement Awards were introduced in 2014 to recognise and reward Queensland’s top performing students for outstanding academic achievement in their senior school studies. The awards are now a prestigious annual event on Queensland’s education calendar.

The current QCE Achievement Awards are for students who graduated from Year 12 with a QCE at a Queensland school in 2015.

About the awards

The QCE Achievement Awards exemplify the high standards, credibility and flexibility of Queensland’s senior schooling qualification, the QCE, by celebrating the learning achievements of the students who best demonstrate breadth and/or depth across a range of learning options.

The awards accommodate the different study patterns typical of today’s senior students. They account for the fact that students engage in diverse learning options, undertake different quantities of learning, and complete their studies at different rates. They acknowledge that senior schooling is not a one-size-fits-all model for students.

It is not possible for schools or students to predict the outcomes of QCE Achievement Awards. Nor is it possible to tailor a student’s learning program to maximise their chance of receiving an award. The key is that whatever study pattern a student chooses, they must achieve to an exceptionally high level – not just within their school but on a statewide basis, and against a range of measures.

Award criteria

The awards are based on different criteria to school and other established awards (e.g. TJ Ryan Memorial Medals and Scholarships, Queensland Training Awards) and are calculated using a range of achievements banked in students’ learning accounts and some additional result information not available to schools.

For this reason, not all of the students who receive an achievement award will be the dux of their school and not all will have achieved an ATAR of 99.95.

Common to all academic award recipients is an OP 1 (or equivalent), an A on the QCS Test, at least 20 semesters of Authority subjects at Very High Achievement level, and the QCE. What sets them apart from other high achieving students is their exceptional combination of high-level academic achievement and breadth of learning, assessed against the following measures:

  • overall QCS Test results
  • tertiary entrance ranking
  • school subject achievements
  • QCE credit achieved, especially in Authority subjects, university subjects, and VET diplomas and advanced diplomas.

Award winners

Award categories

There are currently seven award categories: (Clicking on an award category +/- will reveal/hide the criteria)

Distinguished Academic Achievers

This award is for the students who, in being awarded a QCE, demonstrate exceptionally high achievement across a diverse range of learning options. A shortlist of candidates is identified for the consideration of the selection panel using the following criteria:

  • an OP 1
  • an A on the QCS Test
  • Very High Achievements in at least 20 semesters of Authority subjects
  • additional tertiary entrance information, including QCS Test performance
  • additional level of achievement information
  • total QCE credit, including credit achieved for Authority subjects, university subjects, VET diplomas and advanced diplomas.

Also included are the two students who have achieved the:

  • greatest total of QCE credit, including 8 credits of Advanced learning
  • greatest total credit in Authority subjects at Very High Achievement level.

The selection panel considers this information, along with any other achievement information recorded in each student’s learning account, to determine the award recipients.

The number of awards conferred will vary from year to year, depending on the selection panel’s determination of an appropriate cut-off between the top students and the remainder of the pool. In most years, the number will be below 25.

Prize: Trophy and prize money

Outstanding Academic Achiever

This premier award is for the student (or students) in the final list of Distinguished Academic Achievers whose achievements the selection panel considers best meet the criteria for that award.

Typically only one winner will be selected. In circumstances where two students cannot be separated, an additional award may be conferred.

Prize: Trophy and prize money

Highest Achievement by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Student

This award is for the highest achieving Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student awarded a QCE . A shortlist of students who identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is identified for the consideration of the selection panel. Other criteria include:

  • highest tertiary entrance rank based on a profile of information, including OP and QCS Test result information
  • QCE Advanced learning achievements
  • other achievement information.

The objective is to identify one winner. In circumstances where two students cannot be separated, an additional award may be conferred.

Prize: Trophy and prize money

Highest Achievement by an International Student

This award is for the highest achieving international (visa) student awarded a QCE . A shortlist of students is identified for the consideration of the selection panel using the following criteria:

  • an equivalent OP 1
  • an A on the QCS Test
  • number of Very High Achievements ( VHA ) in Authority subjects
  • QCE Advanced learning achievements
  • other achievement information.

Prize: Trophy and prize money

Highest Result on the Queensland Core Skills Test

This award is for the student who achieves the highest scale score across all components of the QCS Test. The QCAA identifies the recipient from final QCS Test result information on all components of the test — Writing Task, Short Response and Multiple Choice.

Prize: Trophy and prize money

Highest Achievement in the International Baccalaureate

Over 450 Queensland students elect to complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma as an alternative to the Queensland curriculum. This award is for the highest performing student who successfully completes the IBD and QCE . The winner is determined from information provided by the International Baccalaureate.

Prize: Trophy and prize money

Certificate of Academic Commendation

This award is for students who are awarded Very High Achievements ( VHA s) in the equivalent of at least six Authority subjects (i.e. at least 24 semesters at VHA standard). The QCAA identifies recipients following finalisation of student results for certification in December. Certificates of Academic Commendation are sent directly to students’ postal addresses at the same time as their final Year 12 results.

Prize: Certificate

Notification of award recipients

Except for Certificates of Academic Commendation, the QCE Achievement Awards recipients will be notified in January and invited with their families to an awards ceremony at the State Library of Queensland on Saturday 20 February 2016.

Selection process

It is important to note that only achievements recorded in a student’s learning account can be considered in the determination of awards.

Winners in some award categories are determined solely from recorded results, while other categories require the appointment of a selection panel to consider shortlisted candidates and determine award winners. The selection panel consists of:

  • the QCAA Chair
  • representatives of State, Catholic and Independent schools
  • one or more QCAA senior staff members.

In addition to the criteria specified for each award category, the selection panel will consider how each candidate’s program of learning and final achievements reflect the following underlying principles of the QCE:

Inclusion and flexibility

  • For different pathways to the QCE .
  • For a wide variety of ways of learning and of demonstrating that learning.
  • For students across the spectrum of Queensland society (geographical, cultural, racial, socioeconomic).

Integrity of standards

  • A standards- and qualifications-based certificate, with rigorous criteria.
  • Setting challenging but achievable standards.
  • Reflecting the goals of Queensland and national curriculums.
  • Setting standards that hold national and international currency in education, industry and in the community.

Credibility and portability

  • A passport to multiple future pathways, national and international.
  • Recognition by (and entry to):
    • higher education (university)
    • further education ( TAFE and private providers)
    • employment
    • schools
    • general public.
  • A certificate that holds high status in the community.

Extract from Norm Hunter, The QCE and the three Rs: Relevance, Rigour and Reputation – a periodic review of the Queensland Certificate of Education (2011).

The process for selection is as follows:

  • Following finalisation of student results for certification, the QCAA applies the criteria to determine an initial shortlist of candidates to be reviewed by the selection panel.

  • The selection panel meets to consider shortlisted candidates and make final recommendations.

  • The QCAA informs schools and students of the outcome of the selection process.

  • All awards (other than certificates of commendation) are presented to students at the QCE Achievement Awards ceremony in February.

For more information, please email: communications@qcaa.qld.edu.au.

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Last updated: 31 May 2016

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