NAPLAN and the Proposed Changes

Over the last week, I have had several of my Year 8 tutoring students come to me in a panic. All of them have the same concern. How on earth am I supposed to get a Band 8 in my NAPLAN next year, if I’m already struggling and really want to sit my HSC in 2020? The media has a massive influence over our communities. If the media tells us one thing, many people may believe it, and sometimes the media has the knack of over sensationalising many things just to “make the news”. This is of course where my tutoring students have heard the news from in the first place!

Why are they freaking out?

On the 19th of July (last Tuesday), Adrian Piccoli, the Minister of Education, announced a number of changes were going to occur over the next 4 years, regarding the HSC for 2020. The major change that was highlighted was that “students in Year 9, 2017 MUST achieve the minimum level of BAND 8 in the NAPLAN Literacy and Numeracy papers in order to receive a HSC certificate.”

NAPLAN already brings out the “fear demons” in many students as it is. A lot of students find it difficult to cope under the pressure of the national testing. Some students, who struggle to read and write as it is, feel even more threatened when sitting the NAPLAN exams. This reaction starts from students in Year 3.

To be honest, if I was the one about to start Year 9, and I KNEW that I struggled and I DOUBTED that the Band 8 result was achievable, I certainly would start freaking out as well.

What the media hasn’t told you!

Back to the media! The media brings fresh fear, hope, optimism and worry to many people daily. By extending their reach from just print and television, to social media, it feels like we are all living in a state of constant fear.

Again, they tell us what they want us to know. Fear. ALL year 9 students MUST achieve a BAND 8 in NAPLAN from next year to SIT THE HSC. As humans we pull out the parts that are important to us, without thinking of the logistics.

The Board of Studies (regulators of what is taught within schools and how it is taught) has covered all the important information that is needed to know about these proposed changes. I have gone through the document for you, and pulled out the bits that you should know.

Change

A change with the HSC has been needed for a while. At the moment, if you hand in all assessments and make a serious attempt on your HSC paper, you will receive a HSC certificate.

The BOSTES changes haven’t just been pulled out of thin air! It has been considered and consulted upon over the last 3 years, in order to provide students with the best educational opportunities that are available to them.

The reforms also don’t just focus on NAPLAN. Other areas of change include the Curriculum taught for HSC and a revision of Assessment that is required for each course.

NAPLAN focus

The NAPLAN focus for students needing to achieve “the standard by achieving Band 8 in NAPLAN in reading, writing and numeracy”, has been derived from the “minimum level students will need to function after they leave school.”

More than one way

There is more than one way in which students can meet the new standards, in order to still receive a HSC certificate.

It would be highly unfair if students only had one opportunity to achieve the standard, and would not be conducive to supplying students with opportunities for success!

The First Way—- Students in Year 9 from 2017 can achieve a Band 8 in NAPLAN. Hence allowing them to receive their Higher School Certificate in 4 years time.

The Second Way— From 2018, an online literacy and numeracy test will be available. Students may receive a pass in this online test in Years 10, 11 or 12, and STILL RECEIVE a HSC certificate.

Students who are unable to pass the online test will still be able to receive a RoSA (Record of School Achievement). This will show what subjects the student has participated in throughout Stage 5 and 6 and their respective results.

What about Maths?

There has been some debate as to whether Maths should be made compulsory for students when they reach senior school. The changes to the NAPLAN and HSC have included Maths.

BOTSES has stated “students who do not reach the numeracy standard by the end of Year 10 are required to study a prescribed Mathematics course or topics until they demonstrate they can reach the numeracy standard.”

So, even if students do not want to select Math as a subject in Year 11 and 12, if they do not achieve the numeracy standard by the end of Year 10, they will need to complete a Math course until this has been reached.

Is it attainable?

BOTSES has an obligation to the Australian community to ensure that any changes placed forward in regards to exams and requirements for the HSC are attainable by MOST students. It isn’t to make everything harder for students to obtain a Higher School Certificate. It is being put in place to ensure that ALL students are leaving school with a benchmark literacy and numeracy result to see them successfully navigate the work environment upon their separation from school.

I believe that all students are able to attain the illusive “Band 8”. For some, this may mean a little bit more focus and work is put in within the classroom. For others, they may need a little more individualised work to attain the Band 8.

But it is definitely attainable.

Please note: The above information is a personal view on the NAPLAN changes. This article was produced to help my tutoring students understand the reality of the changes, and the other ways in which they will be able to attain the standard to receive their HSC Certificates.

References: Stronger HSC Standards