TNDOT 5: The Party of the First Part

This multi-TNDOT is a little different, not as high a level or as old school as the previous ones, but the questions still seem pretty wild. We haven’t thought about the questions at any length, but conceivably they could also be used to challenge/tease younger students.

The TNDOT consists of two questions, each with two parts, from the 1911 Victorian Pass Algebra Matric exam. The exam paper instructed students to answer only one part from each question but we run a tough blog here and all readers are expected to answer all questions. As usual, commenters might refrain from posting answers too quickly, so that other readers have a chance to have a go. Have fun. Continue reading “TNDOT 5: The Party of the First Part”

Estimating Stephen Gniel

Stephen Gniel, of course, was CEO of VCAA while the Deloitte debacle played out, and then during the subsequent 2023 VCE exams battle. Gniel then began his previously arranged secondment, to be Acting CEO of ACARA (also permitting Gniel, it seems, to duck appearing before the Bennett inquiry). It is in the latter role that Gniel appeared (along with Sharon Foster, ACARA’s Executive Director, Curriculum, and Russell Dwyer, ACARA’s Executive Director, Assessment and Reporting) at Senate Estimates on 15 February, in front of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee. I don’t think Gniel had much fun. Continue reading “Estimating Stephen Gniel”

The New Report on the VCE Exams is Out

The report of the VCE exam review conducted by Dr. John Bennett has been handed down. The media release is below and the Executive Summary of the report is here (and in Word). Presumably, there is no intention to release the full report. (23/03/24. And my presumption was wrong. See the update below.) I haven’t yet had a chance to look at anything, and I may update this post later.

UPDATE (20/02/24)

VCAA’s acting CEO, Kylie White, gave a lengthy ABC interview this afternoon. There are also reports in the AgeHerald Sun and EducationHQ.

I’ll leave off writing any detailed thoughts about the report until the dust and my brain have somewhat settled. In brief, while there are significant nits to pick the report is very good on some important recommendations. In particular: employ competent mathematicians; and report in a timely manner. These are not magic wands, but they would be big and important steps.

Continue reading “The New Report on the VCE Exams is Out”

TNDOT 3: The Remainders of the Day

Here’s a third entry in our Teaching New Dogs Old Trigs Tricks series: the first three questions from the 1907 Victorian Matric Algebra exam.* As well as the computational aspects, readers might be interested in contemplating what was expected for the proof parts, as well as how one might fruitfully present such results to students now, a century later.

*) TNDOT 2 is also in the process of being updated. Stay tuned.

Continue reading “TNDOT 3: The Remainders of the Day”

A Tale of Three Cities

This is kind of a WitCH, but there’s plenty of non-crap as well. It is also properly a tale of two states and a planet, but the title was difficult to resist.

A few months ago a teacher-reader sent me three recent assessment questions from three different sources: NSW’s HSC Extension 2 Exam, the World’s IB Higher Level Analysis Exam, and Victoria’s VCE Specialist Mathematics Sample Assessment Tasks (SACs). All three questions involve integrating functions of the form \boldsymbol{x^ne^{kx}}, and the teacher-reader had suggested that there was a smell of plagiarism about it all. We weren’t convinced of that; the functions are very natural fodder for senior mathematics questions, and if there is arguably some borrowing, it is definitely not a Harvard standard of plagiarism. Indeed, the three questions are notably different in, um, style. That seemed worthy of a post.

Here are the three questions. Readers can have at it. Continue reading “A Tale of Three Cities”

The Complex Roots of VCAA’s Defence

1. Introduction

Sometimes VCAA is their own worst enemy. Well, no: we all know the identity of VCAA’s worst enemy. But on occasion VCAA places runner up. Maybe third.

I’ve been pondering VCAA’s major 2022 errors, how they could have occurred and how VCAA could continue to defend the flawed questions for so long, against all reason. Yes, “VCAA is nuts” springs to mind. But that’s not enough. VCAA being nuts is necessary but not sufficient to explain this extended episode of madness. Continue reading “The Complex Roots of VCAA’s Defence”

VCAA’s Defence of the Indefensible 2022 Exam Questions

The most maddening aspect of VCAA is their steadfast refusal to admit error. Typically, VCAA simply will not engage and whatever nonsense they’ve written remains written. 2022 was different, however, in that Burkard and I badgered VCAA sufficiently for VCAA to decide to conduct an external review(s). As well, a mathematics teacher complained strongly enough and unwaveringly enough about the four bad Specialist Mathematics questions that a substantial response to his specific objections was required. Continue reading “VCAA’s Defence of the Indefensible 2022 Exam Questions”

The Cheese Story, Part Two

In 2015, pre-blog, I was not the dedicated thug that I am today. I had already taken a few potshots at VCAA, but I hadn’t gone in hard. I understood, of course, that VCAA was prone to being arrogant and inept, but I hadn’t yet concluded that they were systemically arrogant and inept. I hadn’t yet realised the magnitude of the target. So, in 2015, when two teachers approached me complaining about a VCE exam question, I handled it differently than I would now. Then, I was polite and patient with VCAA. We all learn.

Continue reading “The Cheese Story, Part Two”

Bad Estimates

On 23 November, secretaries of Victoria’s Department of Education appeared before Victoria’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, an “Inquiry into the 2021–22 and 2022–23 Financial and Performance Outcomes“. This included the appearance of the Secretary, Jenny Atta, and the Deputy Secretary, Schools and Regional Services, Dr. David Howes. The full transcript is here and answers to the questions on notice are here.

After an introductory presentation by Atta, the questioning was begun by Nationals MP, Danny O’Brien. Below are excerpts from O’Brien’s questioning of Atta and Howes, together with an answer provided later to a question on notice. Emphasis has been added at various points, for obvious reasons.

Continue reading “Bad Estimates”