‘We were shocked, distraught’ say Tasmanian students after exam scores drop



December 18, 2018 18:53:34

Some of Tasmania’s highest achieving year 12 students have been left shattered after maximum scores for one subject plummeted by 30 per cent from the previous year, reducing their university entrance scores.

Key points:

  • Asian Studies ATAR scores dropped 30 per cent this year
  • UTAS is delaying placement offers until it is resolved
  • The Tasmanian Assessment, Standards and Certification office is investigating

An investigation is underway into the scoring of some units offered to Tasmanian year 12 students as part of the University of Tasmania High Achiever Program (HAP) and University Connections Program (UCP) units.

The programs allow students to take university-level units at the same time as their Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE) studies.

The issue has forced the University of Tasmania to delay making placement offers to students because it wants to ensure the ATARs are correct.

The scoring issue was discovered after students received their exam results on Tuesday morning.

It has primarily affected Asian Studies students, with the maximum score available for that unit this year just 18, down from 26 points last year.

Student Yasmine Wright Gittins said she contacted a number of her peers immediately after receiving her Asian Studies results, and many were devastated.

She said her reduced ATAR may affect her ability to obtain a scholarship.

“We were all shocked, and pretty emotionally distraught over it, a lot of people were quite reliant on the marks they needed to receive from that subject,” she said.

“We’re pretty upset at the moment, we just want an answer from [the Tasmanian Assessment, Standards and Certification Office [TASC]].

“These are all academically-gifted students that are undertaking the course, in general, and they have ambitious goals for university, and they won’t be able to achieve that.”

The points a student receives for their five best college subjects are aggregated to calculate their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).

Certain university subjects require a minimum ATAR for entry — for example a Bachelor of Medical Research at UTAS requires an ATAR of 85 or above, and physiotherapy at Monash University requires an ATAR of 92.

Ms Wright Gittins said she was not sure why the points on offer from the Asian Studies subject had fallen so dramatically, considering the course content had not changed.

She said she had been advised to take the course as it was a consistently high-scoring unit and was expected to significantly contribute to students’ final ATAR.

Scores for pre-tertiary subjects change slightly each year, based on the difficulty of the subject and the number of students taking it.

A government spokesman said TASC was investigating the scaling data for some University of Tasmania HAP and UCP units, including Asian Studies.

He said TASC would contact students by the end of Tuesday if their ATAR was changed as a result of the investigation.

“We recognise this is unfortunate and we are sensitive to the impact for students and are working to resolve this as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.

“Importantly, I can confirm that this will not affect offers or scholarships to either the University of Tasmania or mainland universities.”








First posted

December 18, 2018 18:43:17

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