This week students across Australia have been sitting their NAPLAN tests. These tests are used by the government to generate an individual report for each child, showing their progress in the key areas of reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. The NAPLAN report also shows the national average and the range for the middle 60% of students nationally and in the school.

Hills Grammar follows the advice of both ACARA and NESA (Australian and NSW teaching authorities) in ensuring that students are familiar with the format of the tests, and that the key skills assessed are integrated into the curriculum. We do not, however, ‘teach to the test’ since this would defeat the purpose of the tests as a ‘snapshot’ of performance, and may serve to ‘place unnecessary stress on your child’ (NESA). We are proud of our students' efforts, and each year analyse the results achieved by our students carefully, reporting these fully in the Newsletter and in the Annual Report. The School is typically between 15-20% above State averages in the combined areas of literacy (reading, writing, language conventions) and numeracy for each cohort. 

Under changes announced last year by NESA under the headline of ‘HSC Minimal Standards’, the Year 9 NAPLAN tests are the first opportunity for students to ‘prequalify’ for the HSC under the three required areas of reading, writing, and numeracy through attaining a Band 8 result in these areas. Since last year only 35% of students in the State reached Band 8 in writing alone, it is likely that the majority of students in the State will need to do at least one online test in Years 10, 11 or 12 to demonstrate that they have met the new minimal standards. This short NESA video was included in the Year 9 NAPLAN briefing. An article in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald also sets out the facts in a straightforward ‘question and answer’ format.

Preparing our students for the future, to be creative and innovative citizens, requires more than the ‘minimal standards’, while at the same time we continue to value literacy and numeracy as foundations for future learning. I believe that we have this balance about right, but am always willing to listen to parent feedback on this important matter.

Geoff Gates | Director of Academic Programs Pre K to 12