PLATOQLD was formed in 2010 by like minded parents, teachers and academics who believe that Queensland’s education system for senior subjects, which is very different from any other system in the world, requires a major overhaul. We want a system which is like those in every other state in Australia and most jurisdictions around the world. This means a proper external examination system rather than 100% internal assessment and far less use of long writing assignments where it is impossible to determine who actually did the work. We also want numerical marks to be used for assessment rather than using the system of an holistic judgement based upon letter grades. (click here and go to page 4 for a summary)
Despite wanting a system like every other state in Australia (and most of the world) Platoqld is regarded as radical by those in the education establishment. This is one of the reasons that Platoqld people are likely to distrust those in our education establishment (called The Blob by the UK education Minister Michael Gove) because they seem to be largely out of touch with reality and the rest of society. Despite this they wield enormous power. This is especially true of most of those in university education faculties – with notable exceptions. It seems that Qld has the affliction of The Blob which is worse than almost anywhere else.
Platoqld is more of an idea than an organisation – the idea is to take back our education system from The Blob and give control back to The Mums and Dads.
Our activity has in the past been concentrated on Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics but other subjects, particularly English will become a focus in the future.
One of the main achievements of Platoqld was the establishment of a parliamentary Inquiry into Qld’s assessment and teaching methods in senior maths, chemistry and physics (click here). It took more than Platoqld to make this happen but it certainly would not have happened without Platoqld. Unfortunately, although Platoqld was vindicated in the inquiry, we are still waiting for major changes to happen in the schools.
State of Origin Education Quiz to see how different Qld is from other states
(Can you make it 9-in-a-row for Queensland?)
1. Name the only state in Australia without state-wide senior subject exams.
2. Name the only state in Australia where teachers can tell students what questions will be in their forthcoming senior exams.
3. Name the state in Australia whose education authority requires teachers to do the most paperwork of any state.
4. Name the only state in Australia where senior physics and chemistry subjects value SOSE-type essay writing more than solving problems by mathematical reasoning.
5. Name the only state in Australia where students can pass senior subjects (including mathematics, physics or chemistry) by having someone else write take-home assignments for them.
6. Name the only state in Australia which allows its education authority to use all the children as guinea pigs for some of the most radical, experimental policies in the world.
7. Name the only state in Australia whose education authority believes that its radical policies are “world’s best practice”, and the rest of the world has it all wrong, even though no other state (or country) has adopted its policies in four decades.
8. Name the only state in Australia whose education authority allows schools to teach senior sciences by choosing whatever topics schools want, and with no depth requirement on any topic.
9. Name the only state in Australia where it is impossible for schools, parents, employers and universities to compare performance between schools in an objective way.
Please see Dr. Matt Dean’s mini-course: Why We Need Comprehensive State-wide Senior Exams in QLD
The Menkens Inquiry came down squarely on the side of Platoqld by advocating a state-wide exam, allowing marks and reducing the size of EEI’s etc. Legislation was introduced to the parliament to scrap the QSA. Considering the situation in 2010, this is remarkable progress.
The focus now must be to ensure that the new QCAA will take the right direction and won’t be hijacked by our opponents in the education establishment. The minister will have considerable power to direct and influence the QCAA.
On Christmas Eve Minister J.P. Langbroek released a statement in response to the Menkin’s Inquiry. See:
• Assignments capped (and consequently the scope for plagiarism and cheating reduced)
• A greater emphasis on numerical marking (work programs and the syllabus might need immediate adjustment to reflect something closer to the NSW or Vic models)
• The QSA will be directed to formally amend syllabuses
• QSA to ‘write to all principals clarifying the use of numerical marking, and develop resources that explain how marks can be linked to syllabus standards and criteria.’ (this is essentially the NSW system)
And all of this to apply from the start of term 1 2014.
But it will be interesting to see how the QSA staff handle the following:
“Under the plan, the number of inquiry-based assessments such as essays will be capped, while the senior heads of maths and science departments from about 400 schools will be compelled to attend workshops early next year to address “challenges and confusions” identified in the parliamentary inquiry.
Mr Langbroek said the workshops will be held by the outgoing Queensland Studies Authority which is due to be replaced by new body, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, in July next year.”
Can you imagine the present QSA staff such as Theo Clark (who is responsible for this amusing video on how to assess using letters http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/27974.html) instructing teachers on how to use marks. And if they don’t do it properly (i.e. you MUST BE ABLE TO ADD UP THE MARKS) I want to hear about it so that their flagrant disregard of a ministerial directive can be publicized. My bet is that they will continue to pretend that nothing has changed, such is the bubble that they inhabit. Perhaps they will now ask that instead of using A, B’s and C’s teachers must compile a matrix of MARKS from 1 to 15 and from that matrix of marks you must make a holistic judgement to get the final grade (without adding them because that would be evil). It is going to be fascinating to watch.
ACER REVIEW: The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is reviewing the Queensland systems of senior assessment and tertiary entrance for students completing Year 12.
ACER has recommended external “assessment” which sounds encouraging but we cannot be sure if this means an exam. There are other concerns with the ACER report
For more information, please see the ACER OP Inquiry page.
Prof Peter Ridd
Prof Peter Ridd is the former HOD Physics at James Cook University. He is now the Head of Intelligent Systems, Information and Modelling in the College of Science Technology and Engineering at JCU. He however contributes to this web site (with Dr Matt Dean) in his private capacity.