ACE Courting Controversy Series – Event One

Friday 5th March 2021

ACE is proud to introduce our new Courting Controversy series for 2021!

Never far from the top 10 controversial topics debated within the education profession, High Stakes Examinations that result in students receiving their exit credentials (such as the New South Wales HSC, the Victorian VCE, the Queensland QCE, South Australia’s SACE, Western Australia’s WACE, ACT’s Senior Secondary Certificate, Tasmania’s TCE or the Northern Territories’ NTCET), continue to polarise teachers, academics and policy makers alike.

In the first of the Australian College of Educators new Courting Controversy Series we pose a simple, yet highly charged question:

“Have senior secondary high stakes examinations outlived their purpose?”

The Courting Controversy Series will be delivered as hybrid events that will include:

  • an in person, live at the action event with capped registrations (according to State Government requirements) and exclusive to ACE members. To register make sure you are logged in to your ACE Member Centre and click the link below.
  • online broadcast via webinar with registrations open to all





Tom Alegounarias is the Chair of the Centre for Educational Measurement and Assessment at the University of Sydney and former Chairperson of the New South Wales Educational Standards Authority (NESA). Since 2009 Tom has been the President of the NSW Board of Studies, and he chairs some very significant committees under his portfolio: NSW BOS Registration and Accreditation of Non-Government Schools Committee, NSW BOS Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Committee and the NSW BOS Primary Curriculum Committee. He also played a substantial role in the establishment of the NSW Institute of Teachers and held the inaugural  position of Chief Executive from 2004 to 2009. Under his leadership the Institute implemented a policy model for supporting teacher quality and standards which has drawn attention from policymakers worldwide.  These professional teaching standards and associated accreditation and approval processes are viewed by government officials as among the most significant educational policy reforms of the past decade.

In a recent opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, titled ‘HSC is a glittering asset and we must protect it,’ Tom opined:

The bathwater is putting the baby in real danger here. Contrary to impressions, the HSC has been in almost continuous review for decades. Changes have been cautious and mostly successful. The critics in my view are motivated less by educational understanding and more by a general antipathy to systemised assessments and to the idea of a common curriculum. The glibness of their criticisms highlights their perniciousness,” (SMH, 18 December 2020).

Greg Whitby AM, KSG, FACE  is a teacher, advocate, administrator and leader. His mission to transform schooling for every child and young person is driven by a strong commitment to justice and equity. As a Catholic Education leader in the Parramatta and Wollongong Dioceses in NSW, Greg has led significant cultural change with a focus on innovation, collaboration and investment in teachers’ learning. Prior to this, he was a teacher and school leader in government and Catholic schools. He has also lectured in the faculty of business at Western Sydney University. Greg has written extensively about education including as the author of Educating Gen Wi-Fi . His weekly column on education “Top of the Class” is syndicated across 22 NewsLocal papers in NSW. His contribution to the public debate has led to many media appearances including on Sunrise , The Project , The Drum , The Conversation Hour , Mornings with Wendy Harmer and Richard Glover’s Drive . Greg’s advocacy for change and innovation has also led to many international conference addresses, including the invitation to present to the Congregation for Catholic Education’s first World Congress in the Vatican City in 2015.

In a recent series of tweets, Greg has stated:

The modest and misguided claim that the HSC is “a tangible artefact of the institutional socialisation that schooling represents” says it all really. The world has moved on, but how we measure student achievement is stuck in the past, where this “artefact” belongs.”

Prof. Sandra Milligan is Enterprise Professor and Director of the Assessment Research Centre, at the University of Melbourne. Sandra leads a team of 25 enterprise academics and support staff, and 20 research students, and works with a range of honorary and consulting associates. The Centre is self supporting, working with partners and funders to improve learning through better assessment, reporting and credentialing of complex competencies. To this end it has an integrated program of research, technology development, publication, development and teaching. In a recent article published by the University of Melbourne (29 June 2020), Sandra notes:

“There is an awkward tension in how Australian schools and universities credential the learning of their graduates. On the one hand, Australian credentials issued by schools and tertiary institutions are easy to understand, widely used, based on high standards and carefully regulated. They are relied on for selection and recruitment purposes…However, these credentials are typically silent about a type of learning that is highly valued by students and teachers – and fundamental to future success in jobs and life. Nor do they say much about what employers, recruiters and selectors say they are looking for.”

Sandra is sought after as a speaker and leads a number of assessment reform initiatives in Australia and internationally.

Moderated by international education innovator and leader, Mr Anthony Mackay AM, FACE.

Anthony Mackay AM is President & CEO of the Washington DC based National Center on Education and the Economy. He is the moderator of the annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession and the Annual Global Education Industry Summit. Anthony is Co-Chair of the recently launched National Project, Learning Creates Australia. Anthony is Deputy Chancellor Swinburne University, Melbourne, and Senior Fellow, Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. He is immediate past Chair of the Australian Council for Educational Research, and immediate past Deputy Chair of New Zealand’s Education Council.   He was Inaugural Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and the Inaugural Deputy Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Anthony is an expert consultant to the OECD, Senior Fellow IBE UNESCO, and Council Member of Asia Society’s Center for Global Education as well as National Board Member and Fellow of the Australian College of Educators.

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