Monday, April 3, 2017


A press release by David de Carvalho - chief executive of the NSW Education Standards Authority as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald 2 April, 2017
"One of our greatest responsibilities in the education system is to produce young men and women with the basic skills they need for life after school. No matter their path, our students should leave school able to follow instructions in equipment manuals, write a job application or prepare a simple invoice.
From 2020 students will need to demonstrate that they have a minimum level of literacy and numeracy to be eligible to receive the Higher School Certificate. The minimum standard is being set at a nationally agreed benchmark of literacy and numeracy that will give employers, universities, colleges and the community confidence that students have the skills they need for success when they leave school. But, more than this, it will help ensure that as students move through high school – and even before – achieving these skills is a priority for their time at school.
The same reform was introduced in Western Australia in 2013 for students sitting the HSC equivalent in 2016, and has resulted in a significant increase in literacy and numeracy attainment. But, while there is general agreement that as many students as possible should have these skills when they leave school, some have seized on the new requirements to peddle misinformation – particularly because of the opportunity provided by NAPLAN testing for year 9 students to demonstrate their proficiency in literacy and numeracy.
This is causing unnecessary anxiety among parents and students in the lead-up to this year's NAPLAN tests when year 9 students are the first cohort who will need to meet the minimum standard to receive their HSC in 2020. So, we need to bust some myths.
Myth 1: Students need to get Band 8 or above in year 9 NAPLAN tests to qualify to sit for the HSC.
False. No student will be excluded from sitting for the HSC on the basis of their year 9 NAPLAN results.
Achieving a Band 8 or higher in the year 9 reading, writing and numeracy is a great result, and means they already have reached the minimum standard. But year 9 NAPLAN is just the first of many opportunities students have to pre-qualify to the HSC minimum standard.  
Students will be able to sit the online literacy and numeracy tests at least twice in each of year 10, year 11 and year 12, if they need to, and they will only need to take online tests in those areas in which they haven't achieved the minimum standard.
Any student will be able to sit their HSC exams and receive their HSC results regardless of whether they have met the minimum standard or not. Those who have not met the standard when their HSC results are issued have five years from when they started the HSC to meet the standard and receive their HSC credential. 
For the few who don't meet the minimum standard within this timeframe, a Record of School Achievement will be awarded – the credential already available to students who leave school before the HSC. 
Myth 2: Band 8 raises the bar too high for year 9 students.
The bar is not being raised.  NAPLAN Band 6 is the year 9 student benchmark. This has not changed. It is not an expectation that all students in year 9 should attain Band 8s, but if they do, they have pre-qualified for the HSC minimum standard.
Myth 3: Linking the HSC and year 9 NAPLAN is unnecessarily stressful for students.
To the contrary, linking year 9 NAPLAN results to the HSC minimum standard will ensure students who may need support to achieve this important functional level of literacy and numeracy are identified earlier – and helped to acquire the skills.
Myth 4: This should not go ahead, because some students will be disadvantaged.
As is the case with NAPLAN tests and the HSC exams, students with a learning, sensory or physical disability will be able to access disability provisions to provide them with a fair opportunity to respond to the online literacy and numeracy tests.
Students with an intellectual disability undertaking Life Skills English or Mathematics courses will be exempt from the HSC minimum standard requirement.
Education policy should express our aspirations for society. To students – and their parents – we should say let's embrace this challenge because settling for anything less than a functional level of literacy and numeracy for the HSC would be a disservice to us all."