A reader of this blog has alerted us to an audit, conducted in 2010, of VCAA’s administration of the VCE exams. It makes for very interesting reading.
That’s a lie. The audit makes for very boring reading. There is, however, one very interesting line. On the VCE exam vetting processes, the auditor concluded (s 2.2.2),
Vetting processes … have been reviewed and improved over a number of years with a result that no technical errors were identified in printed exam papers in 2009.
That must have been a relief. Although there was this:
Now, to be fair, the issue with the question is not technically a “technical error”. It’s more of a monumental blunder. One might also note that this stuff up was just a one-off in 2009. Well, a two-off. Well, OK, …
In response to this audit and its conclusions regarding VCAA’s exam vetting (and writing) processes, we have two comments and a question.
Firstly, one should never send a mathematical boy to do a mathematical man’s job. (And, certainly, do not send mathematical toddlers.) Undoubtedly, the Auditor-General and their staff would not have had the expertise (nor the time) to confirm for themselves the truth of any such “no errors” claim. If you want mathematics exams properly vetted, audited, whatevered, then get properly competent mathematicians to do it.
Secondly, it seems very likely that either the auditing was incompetent or VCAA actively deceived the auditor, or both. Why? Because it seems impossible to believe that VCAA was unaware, long before the audit, that the Specialist question was stuffed: the error is simply too blatant for someone not to have alerted VCAA, and very quickly. (VCAA has also declared, although much belatedly and unconvincingly, that VCAA was aware that the Methods question was stuffed at the time of grading, and thus long before the audit.)
So, then, did the auditor ever ask VCAA if VCAA had identified “technical errors” on the 2009 exams? If not, then the auditor was incompetent and it also seems highly likely that VCAA withheld highly relevant information. But, if so, then it seems highly likely that either VCAA lied to the auditor, or people within VCAA deceived other people within VCAA.
Thirdly, and finally, the question: is this gonna happen again?
After the 2022 stuff ups, and then the 2023 stuff ups, the Minister for Education has signalled there will be a review of the VCE exams, and VCAA has separately signalled some kind of reviewing. The question is whether any of this reviewing will amount to anything other than the usual whitewashing.
We’ve been open-minded about this, and we’ve been deliberately quiet, allowing things to play out. But the more time goes by without hearing anything of sensible substance from either the Minister or VCAA, or much of anything, the less hopeful we are.
We’re still open-minded. We’re now anything but optimistic.