Apology short-lived as another VCE error throws Year 12s into chaos

At least nine mistakes have been found in the VCE exams this year, thrusting “undue stress” upon thousands of Year 12 students across a number of subjects.

The latest has affected at least six students across at least three Victorian schools, after students studying Chinese language were allegedly given the wrong exam paper this week.

Students who were meant to take the Chinese Second Language Advanced exam were instead given papers for the Chinese as a Second Language exam, which is an easier level that is due to be held next Wednesday, according to The Herald Sun.

Students and parents are now calling for more transparency and appropriate solutions from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), with fears Year 12s who received the easier paper will be graded the same as students who received the Advanced exam.

The Herald Sun reports that six Advanced students were also forced to sign nondisclosure agreements after they were mistakenly given the wrong exams.

However, according to the ABC, at least one of the essay questions and details of some listening exercises have allegedly been leaked online and are being circulated on social media.

VCAA has not explained how the students who received the easier paper will be graded, and the names of the affected schools have not been published.

A VCAA spokesperson did, however, confirm to the broadcaster that two schools contacted the authority on Monday to report “they had inadvertently administered the wrong Chinese Language examination”.

“The VCAA is working directly with the two schools to ensure that no students are disadvantaged,” the spokesman told The Herald Sun.

But the VCAA’s response has copped criticism from VCE Chinese teachers, who told the ABC it was the “basic responsibility” of the VCAA staff who were supervising the exam to check everything was correct.

There are supposed to be “clear tags” to classify each exam paper.

“The fact that more than one school gave the wrong exam paper shows it’s not an individual mistake, (it shows) the VCAA didn’t provide adequate training for supervisors,” the teacher, who does not work at one of the affected schools, told the ABC.

This year’s VCE exams have been plagued by a number of errors across a number of subjects – including three in general maths, three in maths methods, one in specialist maths, and another in chemistry.

The VCAA has been forced to award two bonus marks to specialist and general maths students regardless of their answers as a result of the errors.

A review in maths exams will be held to minimise the chance of errors in future exams.

A spokesman for the VCAA apologised for the “undue stress” to students and schools and promised to “take steps to ensure that no student is disadvantaged”.

The pileup of maths exam errors prompted the VCAA to tell the Herald Sun it “accepts full responsibility for errors in the 2023 VCE examination papers”.

“These do not meet the high standards that the VCAA sets and that the community rightly expect.”

Victorian education minister Ben Carroll issued an apology after the errors in the general maths exam came to light. He said he had spoken with the chief of the VCAA and ordered an immediate investigation to “get to the bottom of how this occurred”.

The chemistry error was in a question about the composition of coconut oil, which had listed the formula for linolenic acid rather than linoleic acid, as intended.

Regarding the chemistry error, the VCAA said, according to The Herald Sun, it “takes all concerns raised about VCE examination papers seriously and investigates accordingly”.

“Following full consideration of any concerns raised, the VCAA will take any necessary action to ensure students are not disadvantaged and assessments are fair and reliable,” it continued.

But thousands of chemistry students who sat this year’s exam have not been told what this means, especialy in regards to whether their answers will be accepted as correct for the question.

The error-riddled 2023 VCE comes a year after five serious errors from the 2022 specialist and method maths exams, which prompted a VCAA review that found there were no serious errors that affected students.

The 2022 exam errors also prompted 69 leading professors to sign an open letter to Mr Carroll asking for further investigation.

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Originally published as Mistakes pile up across maths, chemistry, and language VCE exams, throwing ‘undue stress’ on thousands of Year 12 students