Julie Bishop’s ultimatum that the ACT introduce external Year 12 exams exposes the hypocrisy of the Howard Government’s education policy.
Despite its rhetoric of choice in education as being fundamental to respecting different needs, it readily over-rules the choices of parents, teachers and students where it suits Government prejudices and interests.
Continuous assessment in Years 11 and 12 has had widespread community support in the ACT since it was introduced 30 years ago. It offers opportunities for students to recover from one or two bad performances so that their future is not blighted as it can be by a bad exam.
The Report of the Review of Government Secondary Colleges conducted in 2005 found a high level of commitment to continuous assessment by parents, teachers and students. During the review, no-one argued for external exams instead of continuous assessment.
The Report concluded that the assessment regime operating in ACT colleges is comprehensive and thorough.
Continuous assessment is educationally sound. It ensures that all student work over two years gets assessed and can contribute to their final grade.
It supports deep learning instead of reliance on memory and rote learning. It enables student strengths to be assessed in a variety of ways, including essays, internal exams, class tests, portfolios, presentations and practical work. They are methods used in tertiary education.
Continuous assessment is one reason why ACT students perform better at tertiary levels than students from elsewhere. Other jurisdictions should adopt this model instead of a flawed and unfair exam system being imposed on the ACT.