Last month we posted a PoSWW on a 2022 Queensland MCQ exam question, for which the accompanying exam report indicated the wrong answer. It is depressingly unclear why QCAA had not been previously alerted to the error, but a couple weeks after our PoSWW appeared, QCAA updated their exam report: in the amended report QCAA indicates the correct answer (p 27), and they also indicate in a footnote that the correction had been made.
For QCAA to have done this was professional and classy. It was also important. The uncorrected report invited, effectively demanded, a mathematical misconception (on inflection points); by correcting the report, QCAA ensured that their exam-report could no longer be relied upon as an authority for this misconception.
In Victoria, it’s different.
The graph above is from a 2021 Victorian (NHT) MCQ exam question. The question asked the students for a domain upon which the function is strictly decreasing. It is clear that the intended answer was the union of the obvious two intervals upon which the function is decreasing, but the function is not decreasing on this union, and none of the suggested answers were correct. We posted a WitCH on the question.
A month after our WitCH, VCAA’s exam report appeared. The report indicated, without comment, that the answer to the MCQ was the interval union. A couple weeks after that, an amended report appeared, with the incorrect answer deleted but with nothing in its stead: VCAA failed to state that the previous report had been in error, and VCAA failed to state that the MCQ has no correct answer. For VCAA to have failed to do so was unprofessional and cowardly, and it has also had consequences: the ghost of this ridiculous exam question haunts us still.
In 2021, soon after the NHT exam appeared, we happened to see a SAC from a “top ten school”: the SAC contained a question exactly in the style of the NHT question, and exhibiting the exact same error. In October of the same year, and after the amended exam report had appeared, the same error was on the draft of a test at a second “top ten school”; the error was caught by a reader of this blog. The same error was still around in 2022, in a selection of sample questions from a third “top ten school”. If “top ten schools” are still serving this nonsense, it’s a safe bet that hundreds of not-top-ten schools are doing so as well.
We checked three current Year 12 Methods textbooks. Two of the three texts – Jacaranda and Nelson – contain multiple exercises and/or examples exhibiting the same error. Nelson sources one question to a 2010 VCAA document, a selection of sample exam questions, including the following:
If VCAA has ever flagged the 2010 error we have seen no sign of it, and the 2021 error is strong evidence that, at least until 2021, VCAA was oblivious. Others were not: itute got it right, and they could not have been alone. Presumably no one bothered to tell VCAA, presumably because no one believed that telling VCAA would have had any effect.
Whatever the history, VCAA is not now oblivious but they still refuse to state the clear truth. Which is their standard practice. There have been numerous VCE exam errors over the years, way way more than is remotely acceptable, but the number of clear and full corrections from VCAA can probably be counted on the fingers of one finger. Perhaps two.
VCAA continually produces nonsense. Then, by refusing to issue clear and proper corrections, VCAA permits, effectively demands, that VCAA be relied upon as an authority for this nonsense. This is shameful. And it has consequences.
An update on the QCAA question is discussed here.