March 16, 2019, Principal

Principal’s Blog: Year 12 Outcomes for Cairns Schools

Some of you will have read the Cairns Post story last week on the Year 12 outcomes for Cairns schools. It was terrific to see Cairns schools do well and is a reflection on the emergence of Cairns as a leading centre of regional education in Queensland.

However, the “league tables” as produced by commercial websites and published by the media don’t tell us the full story. Under the current system, if close to the full Year 12 cohort aren’t sitting for their OP, then comparing percentages of OP bands is neither accurate nor fair.

As a school that believes in preparing students for a tertiary pathway (even if graduates decide not to follow that path after finishing school), each year more than 95% of our Year 12 students obtain an OP. Consider the following example: if 10 students out of 50 receive an OP1-5 in a particular school, the league tables display this as  20% OP1-5. If 10 of the lower-achieving Year 12 students decide not to receive an OP, then the league table would show 25% OP1-5, without any change in results or QCS performance.

Therefore, we use a more accurate measure that takes into account the fact that many other schools have a lower percentage of students obtaining an OP, with those choosing not to obtain an OP most likely not academically in the OP1-5 range. That’s the way it should be, where young people have an opportunity to work towards the pathway after secondary that best suits their strengths and interests, but it means that academically apples aren’t being compared with apples in these published media tables.

Our internal measurements apply Year 12 results as a percentage of all Year 12 students, which makes it a fairer comparison of school academic achievements. Note that overseas visa student results are not included in QCAA summary statistics.

We are very proud of our Year 12 graduates and the results they worked hard to achieve. To achieve 30% OP1-5 with a cohort at 97% OP-eligibility is an outstanding outcome for our students. We look forward to hearing further news on the courses they have been accepted into as they take the next step.

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