THE NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has explained the new minimum standards students must meet in order to achieve their HSC from 2020.
Students who do not attain the HSC minimum standard in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) by the time they leave school will receive a record of school achievement rather than a HSC.
Under the changes, students in year 9 must reach a minimum standard of band eight to achieve their HSC in year 12. Those who do not attain the HSC minimum standard by the time they complete year 12 will receive a record of school achievement instead.
However, after year 9, students under the minimum standard who want to graduate with their HSC will be provided ongoing literacy and numeracy testing and teacher support in years 10, 11 and 12. There will also be an extended period after the completion of the HSC for a student to still achieve the required result.
NAPLAN results in 2016 indicated that more than half of all year 9 students in the reading, grammar and punctuation, spelling and numeracy tests received band seven or below, Fairfax Media reported in December.
In writing, more than two-thirds of students scored band seven and below.
A NSW Education Standards Authority spokesperson insisted no student will be excluded from sitting for the HSC on the basis of their year 9 NAPLAN results.
NAPLAN, which was introduced in 2008, is designed to test the essential skills of reading, writing, spelling and numeracy. It is used as a measure for schools to ensure benchmarks are being reached across the curriculum.
The assessments are undertaken nationwide annually in the second full week in May.
“We know students learn at different rates and NESA expects that the majority of students will be sitting at least one of the new, short, online reading, writing and numeracy tests in years 10, 11 or 12,” the spokesperson said.
“The HSC minimum standard of literacy and numeracy is being introduced to help ensure that students leave school with the basic literacy and numeracy skills fundamental for life, and are able to communicate ideas effectively in all of their HSC exams.”
Regardless of an individual's plans beyond school, students are going to need adequate reading, writing and numeracy skills to make sure they can do things like compare discounted goods, write a job application and follow written instructions to operate equipment safely, NESA said.
Port Macquarie’s Kelly King, co-founder of Dyslexia Support NSW Mid North Coast, has grave concerns.
“New HSC minimum standards will not address NSW's poor literacy and numeracy standards,” she said.
“Parents and teachers are all struggling to understand the purpose of the new minimum HSC standard.
“This is irresponsible education policy that will do nothing to improve our state’s literacy and numeracy results, or meet the needs of the students who are already struggling to achieve basic standards.
“Addressing ‘basic’ literacy and numeracy skills in year 9 is simply too late.
“The research is clear that evidence-based instruction and interventions in the early years (kindergarten to year two) is imperative, with systematic synthetic phonics being a key component in the effective teaching of reading.”
A NESA spokesperson said quality teaching of the NSW curriculum is the best way to prepare students to meet the standard.
“The day-to-day work of teachers involves identifying students who need learning support, and tailoring programs to help them improve their knowledge and skills,” they said.
The $340 million NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020 provides further support, including professional development for teachers, for the early identification of students at risk of not meeting the minimum standard.
A short, animated video explaining the HSC minimum standard can be viewed below: