Australia's leading research-based learning centre

A few days ago, the NSW Department of Education announced changes to the Opportunity Class Placement Test in 2021 for placement in 2022.

If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that we’re getting better at responding to change!

The changes shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially following the recent changes made to the Selective Placement Test, covered in our blog ‘Selective Placement Test – Most Recent Changes Every Parent Needs to Know’.

Like the Selective Placement Test, the Opportunity Class (OC) Placement Test no longer consists of a general ability component. Instead, the test design has shifted to assessing students’ ability to think critically.

How has the test changed?

The previous OC Placement Test measured English (reading comprehension), mathematics (problem-solving skills), and general ability (abstract and verbal reasoning).

In the new test, reading comprehension remains. However, the general ability section will be replaced with thinking skills and mathematics will be re-shaped as mathematical reasoning skills.

A comparison between the old test and the new test is set out in the below table.


Old OC Placement Test

New OC Placement Test

English (reading comprehension)

English (reading comprehension)

Mathematics (problem-solving)

Mathematical Reasoning

General Ability

Thinking Skills


The test will remain in a paper-based format in 2021 but will be computer-based from 2022.

Why the change?

The changes are in response to the findings of a review commissioned by the NSW Department of Education in 2018. The review researched methods and processes used to identify and place gifted students in selective schools. Research conducted included:

  • Independent expert review
  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Fieldwork in schools
  • Stakeholder consultation
  • Literature review of the latest scholarship
  • Comparative reviews of Australian and international practices

As you can see, the review was thorough and therefore we believe its findings to be credible.

The findings, detailed in the Review of Selective Education Access report, identified weaknesses in test design which reduced its effectiveness in assessing ability. This raised the need for the selection process to be improved to truly identify students’ ability, resulting in the new changes to the OC Placement Test.

To gain a better assessment of the ability levels of gifted students, the difficulty of the test has been adjusted to reduce its predictability.

The NSW Department of Education also aims for selective schools to enrol students based on their ability, not their background. This push to make selective schools more accessible to a diverse range of students is in response to the revelation that unintended barriers in the application process may be deterring some gifted students, including disadvantaged, disabled, Aboriginal, and rural students.

Are there any changes to the test date?

Though the OC Placement Test dates were shifted in 2020 because of COVID-19, the timelines for this year for Year 5 entry in 2022 should return to normal. The key dates are:


Date

Activity

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Applications open

Friday 14 May 2021

Applications close

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Opportunity Class Placement Test


For more information in relation to Opportunity Classes, including how to apply and prepare for the OC Placement Test, you can read our previous blog ‘Everything You Need to Know About Opportunity Classes’.


 

How can GEA help?

 

At Global Education Academy, we believe an engaged and stimulated child is a happy child. So that’s the approach we take when preparing our students for any test, including the OC Placement Test.

Our OC coaching program is designed to engage your child in a stimulating learning environment. To respond to the recent changes, we have adjusted our program to ensure it remains appropriate to help your child get ready for the new OC test.

If you have questions about the changes to the Placement Test or changes to our OC coaching program, please call us on 1300 001 432. If you are ready to enrol your child in our OC coaching program, you can do so today, just click here.