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Drivers of the change

In 2014 the Queensland Government commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to review senior assessment and tertiary processes in order to advance Queensland's procedures for senior assessment, school reporting and tertiary entrance.

Professor Geoff Masters and Dr Gabrielle Matters from ACER were the joint leaders of the review. Both are recognised experts with extensive knowledge of assessment and tertiary entrance procedures in Australia and overseas.

The following information is available on ACER ’s website:

ACER ’s recommendations (ACER PDF) were delivered to the Minister for Education, Training and Employment on 19 September 2014.

Background to the review

While current assessment, reporting and tertiary entrance procedures remain fair and reliable, it had been over 20 years since the last comprehensive review. Over the last decade or more, the Queensland system has been affected by developments including:

  • greater numbers of students completing Year 12 and participating in tertiary studies
  • more pathways for students in senior schooling
  • increased uptake of vocational education and training by students in Years 10–12
  • the introduction of the Queensland Certificate of Education, which recognises a wide range of learning options
  • increased proportions of Year 12 students using tertiary ranks other than the Overall Position
  • adoption of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank by all states except Queensland
  • implementation of the Australian Curriculum across P–10 with senior to follow
  • a changing national environment for curriculum, assessment and tertiary entrance.

The QCAA welcomed the review and assisted ACER where requested.

Preparing for change

Following the release of ACER ’s report, the QCAA resolved to build on the work of the review so that the senior system could better support young people in the transition to further education, training or work. It immediately engaged schools and education experts in a range of consultation activities and technical work to inform future decision-making about the systems of senior assessment and tertiary entrance.

Senior curriculum and assessment working groups

To coordinate its approach, the QCAA Board established a cross-sector steering committee which subsequently commissioned 22 subject working groups to provide expert advice on specific technical issues relating to the review recommendations on types of assessment, including internal and external assessment, and the relative impact on senior syllabuses. These working groups included representatives of the three schooling sectors, unions, tertiary institutions and subject associations.

The working groups addressed all Authority and Authority-registered subjects, with some groups focusing on a number of related subjects:

  • English
  • Specialist Mathematics
  • Foundation Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Sciences
  • History
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • Geography
  • Business
  • Economics and Legal Studies
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Music
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Scripted Languages
  • Non-scripted Languages
  • Information Technology
  • Industrial Technology
  • Home Economics
  • Humanities.

The working groups met four times during Semester 1 2015. To inform their work, they conducted a survey on assessment processes and the proposed role of school-based and external assessment in Queensland senior schooling.

Responses to the survey, the working groups’ final report, and information obtained through other consultation and trial initiatives have informed QCAA ’s advice to the Minister for Education about the ACER review recommendations and improvements to Queensland’s system of senior assessment.


The QCAA provides responsible and accountable leadership of the change management process and remains the key point of authority on the new system.

QCAA is working in partnership with Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) and the Minister for Education’s Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce, as well as engaging school leaders across the education sectors.


The QCAA will transfer responsibility for generating a common Year 12 tertiary entrance rank to the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC). QTAC will administer this process on behalf of Queensland tertiary institutions. For more information visit QTAC.

Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce

The Minister for Education has established a Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce to guide the development and implementation of these new systems. Chaired by the Minister, the taskforce includes representatives from the schooling sectors, parents, teachers, principals, unions, the tertiary sector, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre.

A brief communique is published after each Taskforce meeting. These documents provide an overview of key points considered and discussed by Taskforce members. These are available on the Department of Education site.

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Last updated: 17 April 2018

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