Some teachers have been pulled from normal classroom duties in an eleventh hour bid to mark more than 26,000 papers.
Some teachers have been pulled from normal classroom duties in an eleventh hour bid to mark more than 26,000 papers.

Teachers pulled from classrooms to mark 26,000 exams

QUEENSLAND teachers have been pulled out of normal classroom duties and urgently diverted to mark exams amid fears English test results would not be assessed in time to meet the deadline for publication of Year 12 results.

Education authorities this week urged school leaders to allow teachers marking the English exam to be allowed to divert their attention to marking tests in an eleventh hour bid to ensure results of the first year 12 external exams which contribute to the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) replacing the OP score, are delivered on time.

In an email to schools this week, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority called on principals to allow any teachers who are currently marking English tests to enable them to mark during school hours between Wednesday November 11 and Tuesday November 17.

QCAA chief executive Chris Rider said the education authority "consider it wise to investigate options for ensuring we finish the marking operation well in advance of the release of final subject results on 19 December".

"You would be aware that English is our most challenging subject due to the nature of the assessment and the number of students.
"We will provide your school with Teacher Relief Subsidy (TRS) scheme funding for any hours worked between 9am and 3pm. The teachers will still receive payment from QCAA for any time worked outside these hours."

It comes as the Queensland Government has invested about $90 million into the rollout of the new Queensland Certificate of Education for senior students between 2015-2020, and committed a further $40m until 2023.

The 'ATAR is not the problem, universities are', amid calls the testing system is too stressful on students: The Advertiser's Caleb Bond says he doesn't "think there is a problem with the ATAR itself... it's the way the universities then use" them, which is the issue. His comments came after The Sydney Morning Herald reported the NSW Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, called for an overhaul to the currently used ATAR system, amid fears faith has been lost in the ranking system for putting too much stress on students. "It's the way that the universities apply that ATAR that's the problem," Mr Bond told Sky News host Peter Gleeson. Universities simply use the ATAR as an indicator of how popular the course is... law once upon a time, you could get in on an ATAR of 60 or 70, these days law is extremely popular so they've jacked the ATAR up to 90, 95 [or] 98 at some universities", he said.

In a statement to The Courier-Mail Mr Rider defended the move saying "double-marking more than 26,000 English essays is a massive undertaking involving about 370 paid markers" and that before this week markers were only working outside school hours.

"After a year of unforeseen challenges, the QCAA won't leave anything to chance. That's why we asked principals if they could release staff during school hours to help us meet our deadlines," he said.

He added that by having "as many teachers as possible mark during school time and after hours", they have "built momentum" this week.

"We are on track to finish the marking and issue student results on 19 December," he said.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said it was good that measures have been taken now to ensure the issue doesn't escalate.

"From our perspective it's critical that action is taken if there's any risk of marking not being completed, and we would support wherever possible schools releasing teachers to undertake extra marking activities to ensure the marking is reached," Mr Bates said.

"Let's make sure we fix it, this can't happen again where we have to make last minute changes, in the first year it's understandable but in subsequent years that's unacceptable," Mr Bates said.

Queensland Secondary Principals' Association president Mark Breckenridge said principals knew it was important to help where they could.

"This is just another way that principals have been able to adjust to a changing situation and deal with it," he said.

"The issue has been raised, they've dealt with it and done what they can to assist the process."

Originally published as Teachers pulled from classrooms to mark 26,000 exams