VCE’s ATAR scores ‘on the way out’

A Federation University professor believes ATAR scores will soon become a thing of the past, branding the performance ranking method as “outdated”.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Quality) Professor Marcia Devlin told The Express the university sector was moving towards a post-ATAR stage.

“The ATAR is definitely going as a measure that universities use as an entry assessment tool,” Professor Devlin said.

The ATAR is a percentile score given between less than 30 and up to 99.95 which denotes a student’s ranking relative to his or her peers upon completion of their secondary education.

Professor Devlin, who has written several articles on the matter, believes the numeric ranking tool favours those from high sociological backgrounds and obstructs others from getting a university place.

“It is really a measure of social and cultural capital,” she said.

She said the current method placed unnecessary stress on students during an important time of their lives.

“We know too much stress does inhibit performance yet we still go through this (ATAR) system,” Professor Devlin said.

“It’s actually a bizarre thing to do, the ATAR doesn’t test knowledge, it assesses one’s ability to do stressful exams.”

Some university degrees already use alternate entry assessment methods including interviews and portfolios and Professor Devlin believed others would soon follow suit.

“The ATAR is almost irrelevant to performing arts – students are assessed on an audition,” she said.

“For the visual arts program, students submit a portfolio on their work.

“FedUni also look at students’ work experience and life experience – there are lots of ways but no ‘one size fits all’.”

Professor Devlin said the focus should be on supporting students, regardless of their entry scores, on completing their chosen degree.

“Anyone who graduates from FedUni meets the required exit standards. It is to an extent irrelevant what they started with,” she said.

A PROPOSAL by Education Minister James Merlino which would see future teachers sourced from the top 30 per cent of school leaders has been met with criticism from a Gippsland university professor.

Federation University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Quality) Professor Marcia Devlin said the proposal was a bad idea for a number of reasons.

“Kids in regional areas will miss out on teacher education programs and it will lead shortage in teachers, which will then be sourced from overseas,” Professor Devlin said.

She said while she understood Mr Merlino’s concerns regarding teaching quality, the proposal was “very simplistic and misleading”.