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Proficiency Certificate among Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) Innovations in 2008

Posted Tuesday 18 September 2007

A Proficiency Certificate in Mathematics Skills and Problem Solving will be a major innovation for students entering the 2008 AMC on Thursday 31 July.

Curriculum Issues

In 2008 for the first time the Australian Government will be holding national numeracy tests for students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 during May. Schools in each state will be implementing the National Statements of Learning (SoLs) from 2008. These are the 'common and agreed curriculum' statements at years 3, 5, 7 & 9.

It is noteworthy to see how the AMC fits in to these statements. It is clear, for instance, looking at the AMC Junior (Year 7) paper in 2007, all problems in the first section of 10 are curiculum-bound under the new criteria. About half of those in the second section of 10 problems are also curriculum-bound. All problems in the AMC are vetted by experts in each state to ensure that the mathematics involved is within state curricula. However the problem solving components through the last 20 problems become increasingly challenging. These properties are essentially the same for all papers from Year 3 to Year 12.

Problem Solving Talent

Results in the AMC often enable a talent to be discovered which is not always apparent in normal class room testing. Many students have a capacity to react to new situations, using their acquired class room skills, as they will often need to be able to use in later study and in their careers. Therefore the new Proficiency statement in mathematics skills and problem solving will have additional meaning.

As a result of this, the AMC in late July provides an excellent complement to the Australian Government numeracy tests.

The AMC will continue to provide a full statistics service, and the system of credit certificates and upwards will continue in each state and external country as it applies currently.

The Proficiency Certificate

The new Proficiency certificate will be awarded to students who have achieved a preset score, but have not been awarded a Credit (or higher) certificate. The score will typically be set no higher than 32 points, which is regarded as equivalent to satisfactory scores in numeracy tests. This is expected to mean that approximately 80% of the Australian entries will receive a Proficiency, Credit or higher certificate. All students, in keeping with Trust policy, will receive one certificate, and Participation Certificates will continue to be issued to students whose score is lower than that required for this Proficiency certicate.

If, on completion of the AMC, the paper has been deemed to be more difficult than expected, a lower score than 32 will apply, possibly differently in different school years.

In countries other than Australia the same system will be applied, but students will need to achieve the same as the determined Australian score to receive the certificate, so this certificate will mean the same in each country. By implication, the Credit Certificates and above will normally reflect higher than the Proficiency level as specified.

Summary

The Australian Mathematics Trust is a non-profit organisation, financially independent, and whose Board contains representatives of the relevant mathematics professional societies. The problems are created by volunteers who are the country's most experienced teachers and academics, and extensively moderated by similar volunteers. The AMC is the first in a pyramid of activities offered by the Trust and which enable the enrichment and development of the more talented students in addition to those of general ability who wish to understand the value of mathematics to the world around them.

Professor Peter Taylor FACE
Executive Director
Australian Mathematics Trust
University of Canberra

18 September 2007