HSC re­forms miss big chance for shake-up

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - with greg whit­byy @greg­whitby

LAST week NSW Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion Adrian Pic­coli an­nounced ma­jor re­forms to the Higher School Cer­tifi­cate in re­sponse to con­cerns over school leavers’ lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy stan­dards and to en­sure that stu­dents are bet­ter pre­pared for the chang­ing na­ture of work.

This is the first time in 17 years that the HSC has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant change.

These changes will come into ef­fect for Year 12 stu­dents in 2020.

The ra­tio­nale for mod­ernising the HSC is not only due to the in­creas­ing in­flu­ence of tech­nol­ogy on work, school and home life, but is an at­tempt to im­prove lev­els of lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy for all stu­dents.

Stu­dents will only be el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive the HSC if they have met a min­i­mum stan­dard of Band 8 in NAPLAN in Year 9.

There is lit­tle de­tail on what hap­pens to those stu­dents who don’t meet the bench­marks.

How­ever, there are prom­ises that they will get ex­tra sup­port and fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet the bench­mark be­fore they sit for the HSC.

What this will look like and how ef­fec­tive it will be is any­one’s guess.

These new re­forms are akin to playing the same game on a new pad­dock.

All the talk about im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion by im­prov­ing test­ing has been heard be­fore.

The HSC is an arte­fact of last cen­tury – rolled out in schools in the ’60s when the world and work was very dif­fer­ent.

The HSC re­forms are a missed op­por­tu­nity to look long term at how we teach and as­sess our stu­dents.

We des­per­ately need re­forms on the early years of school­ing.

Be­cause get­ting it right from the be­gin­ning makes more sense than playing catch-up at the end of school­ing.

While Fin­land is now fo­cus­ing on ‘hap­pi­ness’ as a key ed­u­ca­tional out­come and our nearby Asian neighbours are look­ing at how to move be­yond high stakes test­ing to im­prove en­trepreneurism, Aus­tralia will con­tinue to be stuck a cen­tury be­hind where we as­pire to be.

If we are se­ri­ous about pre­par­ing stu­dents for 21st cen­tury life and work, then we need to start by en­sur­ing that ev­ery school is in­no­va­tive.

The HSC re­forms are a missed op­por­tu­nity to look long term at how we teach and as­sess our stu­dents

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