(Australian Associated Press)
NSW students are being told not to stress about NAPLAN test results despite being the guinea pigs for a state government strategy targeting eligibility for the Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Tuesday marked the first of three days of NAPLAN testing in reading, writing and numeracy for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 nationwide.
For Year 9 NSW students it’s also the first opportunity to pre-qualify for the HSC by achieving a Band 8 or above in the three subjects.
The national minimum standard for Year 9 students is Band 6.
It follows the state government’s announcement last July that from 2020, students would not be eligible for the HSC if they did not achieve a set minimum standard in literacy and numeracy, and instead receive a Record of School Achievement.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes sought to reassure students they would not be excluded from sitting for the HSC based on their NAPLAN results and should treat the testing “like any other day”.
“If you don’t achieve a Band 8, don’t worry,” he told AAP on Tuesday.
“You have three more years of learning before the HSC and plenty of more opportunities to meet the benchmark.”
He said NAPLAN results provide valuable information on a student’s progress for all stakeholders, so needs-based funding can be used to improve HSC eligibility including additional staff to provide one-on-one support, literacy programs, and professional development for teachers.
Shadow Education spokesman Jihad Dib told AAP while he supports the end goal of academic excellence, the government’s approach is “nonsensical”.
“Anybody with an educational background knows that they’ve actually got it the wrong way around. You develop the strategy, you provide the resources, then you do the test,” Mr Dib, a former school principal, said on Tuesday.
He also questioned why HSC pressure is “heaped” on Year 9 students if NAPLAN data starts in Year 3.
“We don’t need 13- or 14-year-olds to start thinking ‘My whole future is going to be based on this exam’.”
Mr Dib said he has received correspondence from students, parents, teachers and principals illustrating the “negative impact” of the new policy.
He said the only support supplied to parents is a Frequently Asked Questions sheet.
“Making kids work harder is really important but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can work as hard as you want, you still don’t know what you’re doing,” Mr Dib said.
According to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), students will be able to sit online literacy and numeracy tests up to twice a year in Years 10-12 and up to five years after graduation to meet HSC standards.