Year 9 is the start

top of the class


FROM this year, NSW Year 9 students will be required to pre-qualify for the Higher School Certificate.

What does this mean? Simply, students will need to meet a minimum standard (above band 8) in reading, writing and numeracy in order to receive a certificate at the end of Year 12.

That doesn’t mean that students won’t be able to sit the HSC, apply to university or enter employment if they don’t meet the minimum band in Year 9.

The irony is that if students don’t pre-qualify in Year 9, they can try again online in Years 10, 11, 12 and even after the HSC.

In essence, the new Year 9 requirements are not designed to hold students back. Rather, it is a policy measure aimed at increasing the confidence of business and universities that students are leaving school with solid literacy and numeracy skills.

For parents and students though, it makes NAPLAN even more high stakes than it already is.

This is in light of growing research showing more and more young people are suffering anxiety.

What’s important here is that schools work to develop a clear message for their communities, which reinforces the message that schools are in the business of teaching, not coaching. Secondly, many students who have gone on to get high ATARs would not have pre-qualified in Year 9. Thirdly, the NAPLAN test is only a measure of literacy and numeracy and not broader skill sets.

It’s not clear yet whether we’ll see increasing numbers of young people leaving school without a HSC.