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Changes to Senior Schooling

There are changes afoot in Queensland’s Education system regarding the new Senior Assessment and Tertiary Entrance (SATE) System, which will commence for Grade 11 students in 2019.

Under our current system, students at the end of Grade 12 achieve an OP (Overall Position) with 1 being the highest; 25 the lowest. To achieve an OP, students in Grade 12 typically complete 5-7 pieces of final assessment for each Authority subject studied.

Authority subjects are ones such as English, Maths A, Biology, Ancient History (not English Communication, Prevocational Maths, Hospitality Practices etc.). Some students also do TAFE certificates, but these do not generally count towards an OP (although, Cert III and above does contribute to a tertiary rank for universities).

All of these Authority subjects’ assessment is school-based, where teachers in the school set the exam and mark it, although are accountable to an outside panel that meets once a year.

Five Authority subjects are currently needed to get an OP. Universities and TAFEs use this OP score to see whether a student is eligible for their courses.

Grade 12 students also sit a QCS exam over two days, consisting of four test papers: Writing Task, Short Response and two Multiple Choice. Results are used to scale subject results that contribute to the OP of the students.

Upon graduating high school, students also receive a Senior Statement, and if eligible, a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), which lists their achievement grades for each subject studied.

So what are some of the changes?

  • Senior syllabuses for each subject are being re-written and updated.

  • Some subjects are being renamed.

  • The OP will be replaced with an ATAR score, which is a finer-grained rank order of numbers from 0.00 to 99.95 with increments of 0.05. It is similar to what is currently used in NSW and Victoria.

  • The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) will be calculated on a student’s five best Authority subjects (soon to be called General subjects); or a student’s best results in a combination of four General subjects, plus an applied learning subject (which includes Subject Area Syllabus subjects, Certificates III or IV, a Diploma or an Advanced Diploma).

  • The QCS tests will disappear, but students will still receive a Senior Statement and QCE.

  • Each Authority subject’s assessment will reduce from 5-7 pieces to four (and of these four assessment pieces, three will still be school-based, but the other one will be externally set and marked by the QLD Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA)). The school-based assessment will contribute to 75% of the final subject result, except in Maths and Science where it will contribute to 50% of the final result.

Kristine Lane is a local teacher and writers. You can follow her on twitter at kristinelane@kwersty or email her your question to our editor via


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