Open Letter to the Victorian Minister for Education

As I wrote about briefly, in December last year Burkard and I wrote a critique of the VCE mathematics exams, which was to form the basis of VCAA’s external review. As I’ve just written, here, dealing with VCAA was incredibly frustrating. More importantly, the overview VCAA released to us has entirely hidden the substance of the external review, and/but the review seems to be nothing more than distraction and whitewash. In particular, there still seems to be no clear appreciation within VCAA that mathematical truth is a thing, and that properly qualified mathematicians are by far the best judges of that thing.

Continue reading “Open Letter to the Victorian Minister for Education”

Witch 113: Smoothing Over the Cracks

This one is a combo WitCH. The main concern is a multiple choice question from last week’s Methods Exam 2. The question may not be an “error” in the newspaper sense, but it is bad. To appreciate some (but far from all) of its badness, however, we need to see VCAA’s solution. We won’t likely see that solution, however however, for months, if ever; transparency is not VCAA’s strong suit (Section 7).

To deal with this, we’ve teamed up last week’s MCQ with a similar MCQ from the 2021 Exam 2, together with VCAA’s solution to that earlier question from the exam report. Last week’s question appears first. Continue reading “Witch 113: Smoothing Over the Cracks”

Witch 108: A Mean Trig

This one, which has been discussed a bit here, comes from the 2023 NHT Methods Exam 2. It is a little strange. There are aspects of the question we like, or at least there are some interesting ideas underlying the question. Nonetheless there is no shortage of crap, and so here we are.

Continue reading “Witch 108: A Mean Trig”

QCAA Shows Some More Class

Not total class, but a ton more class than we’ve ever witnessed from VCAA.

This is a lot of times to write about one multiple choice question, but it is important. A month or so ago we posted a PoSWW on a 2022 Queensland MCQ exam question, for which the accompanying exam report indicated the wrong answer. In a second post last week, we noted that QCAA had updated their exam report, to indicate the correct answer and including a footnote flagging that the correction had been made. QCAA has now gone further. Continue reading “QCAA Shows Some More Class”

The Cost of VCAA’s Dissembling

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. Continue reading “The Cost of VCAA’s Dissembling”

VCAA’s Greater Literary Offenses

The difficulty of critiquing VCAA mathematics exams is capturing the variety and the frequency and the depth of the flaws, and then summing the overall effect, the fundamentally impoverished approach to mathematics and its testing. Documenting straight out errors is not overly difficult, and even non sequitur questions are manageable: the error or weirdness typically speaks for itself. Capturing the ubiquitous awfulness of the writing, and the intrinsic meaninglessness of many of the questions, however, is harder. Continue reading “VCAA’s Greater Literary Offenses”