Queensland OP system under review

DictionaryThe Queensland Government has commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to review its school leaver assessment rank, the Overall Position (OP). The OP has been in place for more than 20 years and is the main method of determining tertiary entrance in the state.

ACER will consider the effectiveness of the OP and determine whether the current process should be altered in line with recommendations or scrapped altogether. It is expected that the review will be received by the state government by April next year.

Figures released by the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA) earlier this year show that only 55.6 per cent of school leavers obtained an OP in 2012, a drop of more than 25 per cent since the system was introduced in 1992. The QSA notes that increasing numbers of students are taking vocational pathways and attaining a selection rank rather than an OP, suggesting that the current system is in need of an overhaul. See below for more information about the two ranking systems.

At this stage, it is unclear how the OP would change or whether Queensland would adopt the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), which is used in all other states and territories. Queensland students are primarily assessed via school-based coursework, in contrast to the combination of school-assessed coursework and external examinations in other states and territories.

If changes are made to the OP, they will come into place in 2016, affecting the current Year 8 cohort.

How Queensland students are ranked currently

Queensland school leavers receive one of two rankings: an OP or a selection rank. The rank for which a student is eligible is determined by the studies they complete in Years 11 and 12. Students who complete the minimum number of Authority studies (those issued and approved by the Queensland Studies Authority) are eligible for the OP. Students who choose Authority-registered (non-Authority studies), which are developed from Study Area Specifications (SASs) and are generally vocational, receive a selection rank instead. Non-Authority studies contribute to the selection rank, but not to the OP.

  • Overall Position (OP): OPs are used to rank students to determine tertiary entrance. Students can obtain an OP between 1 and 25, where OP 1 is the highest possible ranking. The OP indicates students' achievement in comparison to all other OP-eligible students in Queensland. Students are first ˜scaled' against the results within their own school, then again against the results of other schools. To receive an OP, students must complete a minimum of 20 units of approved Authority subjects and sit all the components of the Queensland Core Skills test. Students applying to institutions outside Queensland can convert their OP into an ATAR. See the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) website for a conversion table.
  • Selection ranks: Students who have not studied towards an OP receive a selection rank. The selection rank is an alternative method of tertiary entrance and, unlike the OP, cannot be used for tertiary admission outside of Queensland. A student's rank is based on their achievement in their best 20 semesters (or equivalent) of study, and can be made up of a mixture of Authority and non-Authority subjects.

See Understanding the school curriculum in Queensland for more information about the QCE and how it is assessed.

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