Researching together in times of change

New senior curriculum, standards and assessment processes, including high stakes external assessment, are commencing in Queensland. Internationally an increasing emphasis on external assessment has often also been accompanied by narrowed curriculum and diminished development of students’ agency, creative and critical thinking (Stobart, 2009; Klenowski, 2010). This project was a collaboration between teachers and researchers, to design quality assessment that might avoid these risks.

How do teachers negotiate and resolve issues of validity, reliability and equity as they make decisions to prepare students for internal and external assessment success?

Senior English was selected as the focus for the research as is the subject with the greatest number of students in Queensland. It is also a subject that is often a pre-requisite for entry to university courses. The research occurred in one large State school and one large Independent school.

The teachers worked with their Year 11 English classes, teaching the current work programs, while also investigating the new draft syllabus documents, and thinking about how they could adjust their practices. Both schools were teaching a unit based on the play, The Crucible (Miller, 1953).


Data gathered included:

  • 6 teacher interviews
  • 4 focus groups with students
  • Unit plans and assessment tasks


Data was analysed by the research team, comprised of academics with interests in Senior English (Dr Kelli McGraw), inclusive education (Professor Linda Graham) and assessment (Dr Jill Willis).

Findings from this research are available throughout this website. You can download the report from the Findings tab https://research.qut.edu.au/ssassessment/tools/project-findings/

This research project was funded by a Queensland Department of Education and Training’s Education Horizon research grant that supports the delivery of high quality research aligned to the Queensland Government’s education and training priorities.