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November 23, 2022 by Doug McCurry from BooBook Education

Do students do better on easier or less popular texts?

The VCAA offers some data in the exam reports that allows us to consider two important questions about text selection for Section A.

  • Are students likely to get higher scores on more or less popular texts?
  • Are students likely to get higher scores on easier or harder texts?

The following is a reorganised version of the table presented in the exam report about the popularity of different Section A texts and the average scores for all sections of the exam in 2021.

The yellow shaded texts are the most popular. The green are arguably the most difficult texts.

Easier or less popular

 There is a lot that can be said about this table, but I will limit myself to some summary conclusions.

  • There is no correlation between the popularity of texts and the average scores on Section A or either of the other sections.
  • There is a very high correlation between the average scores on Section A and the other sections.

These results suggest that, on average, it does not matter whether students are answering on more or less popular texts, or more or less difficult texts because on average the scores are much the same on each section.

But this data and these conclusions are of limited validity because the numbers are averages. It may be the case that the popularity and/or the difficulty of texts has a substantial impact on the performance of students in specific schools. Whether this is the case cannot be determined from this aggregate data. This is why it would be useful for schools over years to consider whether the results of their own students seem to change with more or less popular or difficult texts.

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