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This article draws on three assessment paradigms – psychometrics, outcomes-based and curriculum-based assessment – to discuss paradigmatic changes in senior school assessment and achievement standard-setting in Queensland, Australia, over the last 50 years. These include radical reforms in 1970 from university-controlled examinations to school-based assessments applying normative standard-setting, to subsequent reforms in 1978 introducing competence(curriculum)-based assessment and standards. From 2019, a new reform introduces a combination of school-based and external assessment with procedures for establishing standards still in progress. Changes to Queensland assessment and standard-setting are discussed in terms of three preconditions for paradigm change – dissatisfaction, an alternative acceptable paradigm, and majority acceptance of change. Influence of paradigmatic origins of reformers is discussed. The amalgam of curriculum-based assessment and psychometric paradigms in the new Queensland system is considered in terms of theoretical compatibility and potential impact on the new standards.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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