Following Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre’s (QTAC) 1 February release of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) Report 2021, Drama Queensland is calling for an immediate formal review of the scaling formula used for ATAR inter-subject scaling results by QTAC. We are seriously concerned that the current scaling formula is having a detrimental impact on not just Drama but all Arts subjects. We have requested an urgent meeting with QTAC to seek clarification and understand further the calculation of ATAR results.
As stated in the 2019 Edition – Inter Subject Scaling White Paper, the purpose publishing the scaling was to “ensure openness, accountability, and transparency of the ATAR calculation process”. However, the lack of information about what is included and not included to get a scaled results means that this process is not transparent. It is unclear how scaling is specifically calculated, what students, if any, are not included and what implications exist for schools in order to provide accurate information to their staff, students and parents/guardians. The use of algorithms and the poly-scaling are highly complex mathematical / statistical processes that are afforded only very brief explanations. The report explains the process of scaling, to a point, but not how the process enables equity in outcomes for students.
Scaling of Drama and Arts subjects is also ill aligned with NSW and Victoria. Part of the move to the ATAR system in Queensland was to have strong alignment to the southern states. However, the QTAC data illustrates a great inequity in the Queensland education system and demonstrates that it is better to study Drama in NSW or Victoria than it is in Queensland. These students will all receive an ATAR, however, those students from Queensland will be disadvantaged when competing with their southern counterparts.
This is especially important in consider the QLD is working in a deficit model, where even if a student receives a 99, this mark is scaled down. In all General Subjects in Queensland, students are graded against Instrument Specific Marking Guides (ISMG’s). A more nuanced and sophisticated approach to scaling is required in Queensland.
While QTAC asserts, in its 2nd February Media release, that students “should choose subjects they enjoy, are good at and which meet any prerequisites for courses they want apply for.” This is directly contradicted by the ‘league table’ of scaling results published by QTAC. We are already seeing this have a significant impact on the number of students selecting Drama in Senior Secondary. As reported by QCAA, in 2017 Drama had 10,274 students enrolled across QLD in Year 11 and 12. Since the introduction of the new QCE in 2019, that number has been reduced to 6,431 students in 2021. This is a drop of over 3,500 students in only 4 years. This is having a significant impact on teachers with more Drama teachers being asked to teach outside their areas and a significant rise in composite classes.
It is vital that teachers develop a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to scaling to ensure that we are empowering our students and enable them to choose their senior subjects with an accurate understanding of the data presented to them. In a year of syllabus review, we seek clarity on the scaling processes to make informed recommendations to QCAA regarding the academic content, cognitions, and assessment instruments. We seek the above to ensure that we take active and informed steps forward to ensure a productive redevelopment of Drama curriculum provides the best possible opportunity for our students to succeed, against other subjects equally.
In light of this, DQ has requested an urgent meeting with QTAC to discuss our concerns as we call for a formal review of the scaling of subjects in Queensland.
For further comment contact: Drama Queensland at firstname.lastname@example.org