Educator hopes OP plan not in danger

A REVIEW into the OP score system is under way, amid concerns a growing number of students are bypassing the required subjects and gaining entry to university through other means.

The State Government has ordered an independent review into the system, which has been used as Queensland's secondary assessment and tertiary entrance process for the past two decades.

Institute of Total Education director Richard Waters has welcomed the review into what he said is a "world-class system".

Although a strong supporter of the OP process, Mr Waters said there were certain areas that needed to be assessed.

The former School of Total Education principal said at times as many as 80% of students were undertaking the OP-eligible subjects, but that figure had now dropped to about 50%.

"I think one of the main things they will be looking at will be the university alternative pathways," he said.

"One of the difficulties is people can opt out of an OP and still get into uni, which is a shame because the OP subjects will give them the best opportunity.

"I think it is a good thing there can be alternative pathways, but it is a problem if there is such a large number dropping out of the main system," he said.

Mr Waters said a system review was well due for the system, but said he hoped the findings would not lead to a major overhaul of the process.

"I would be very concerned if it was a prelude to external exams like they have in NSW because we really do have a world-class system," he said.

"The school-based assessment system provides a lot of professional discussion between teachers, sharing of standards and gearing the curriculum to the individual context of each school."

Some people have raised concerns that school group results on the Queensland Core Skills exam can have an impact on individual student results.

Mr Waters said this was something of a problematic area and it could also be targeted in the review.

"In order to compare students in different suburbs and different schools, they look at how the students perform on the QCS test," he said.

"Every state has some form of standardisation and there are some problems with doing that. It's not easy and that is one are that could be looked at."

Former Warwick State High School student Haylee Forbes said she believed the OP system was a great one, but she also questioned the validity of the QCS test.

"I don't get the point of QCS and I do think it brought my OP down," she said.

"I did really well with all my exams and assignments, but my marks weren't as good on the QCS.

"I think it is pointless and everyone else I went to school with said the same thing."

Miss Forbes, who is now in her second year of a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Tourism and Hotel Management, said that overall she thought the OP process was doing its job.

She said it allowed the assessment that counted towards the score to be spread out over the year, instead of one major exam.

"The system is great because you have a lot of chances through the year to bring your mark up and they prepare you for it in Year 11," she said.

"And if you don't get the marks you are hoping for there are other ways to get into the courses you want to."


OPs put under the spotlight

  • The Overall Position (OP) tertiary entrance system was introduced in 1992.
  • An OP is the student's rank order position, with 1 being the highest and 25 the lowest.
  • Scores are calculated using the best five results from OP-eligible subjects.
  • Findings of the review are expected to be delivered by the end of this month.

What do you think? Does the OP system need an overhaul? Email

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