Get­ting your head around an ATAR

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Education Week 2018 -

Par­ents with chil­dren en­ter­ing sec­ondary level and stu­dents pre­par­ing for fu­ture ca­reers will find them­selves con­fronted with the acro­nym ATAR.

But just what is an ATAR and what does it mean?

ATAR stands for Aus­tralian Ter­tiary Ad­mis­sion Rank and is a stu­dent rank­ing sys­tem for many un­der­grad­u­ate-en­try univer­sity pro­grams in Aus­tralia.

It is based on rank­ing a stu­dent’s achieve­ments in re­la­tion to other stu­dents and is not a mark or score out of 100.

Vic­to­rian Ter­tiary Ad­mis­sions Cen­tre, VTAC, ad­min­is­ters stu­dent ap­pli­ca­tions for ter­tiary cour­ses, schol­ar­ships, spe­cial schemes and TAFES, solely for the use of ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

The in­sti­tu­tions use the rank­ing to com­pare over­all achieve­ments of stu­dents who have com­pleted var­i­ous combinatio­ns of Vic­to­rian Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion stud­ies.

VTAC uses VCE stu­dent re­sults is­sued by the Vic­to­rian Cur­ricu­lum and As­sess­ment Au­thor­ity to cal­cu­late an ATAR.

A gen­eral mes­sage from var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tion ex­perts is that gain­ing an ATAR, while rep­re­sent­ing a main­stream way for stu­dents to gain places in ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions and a stu­dent-rank­ing tool, is far from re­flec­tive of abil­ity, skill or in­tel­lect of a per­son ma­tur­ing from child­hood into adult­hood.

There are many is­sues or cir­cum­stances, such as ill­ness, fam­ily up­heaval, so­cio-eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, un­fore­seen dis­trac­tions or lack of ma­tu­rity that might lead to a stu­dent fail­ing to reach a de­sired ATAR rank­ing.

Many of the ex­perts are quick to say there­fore, that in a mod­ern Aus­tralia, it is not the only way to ac­cess ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

Some in­sti­tu­tions of­fer al­ter­na­tive ‘path­ways’ that as­sess stu­dent suit­abil­ity based on a method­ol­ogy that might in­clude ex­tra cour­ses or ap­pli­ca­tions and in­ter­views that zero in on an in­di­vid­ual’s per­sonal qual­i­ties, ex­pe­ri­ence and-or mo­ti­va­tion.

Some TAFE and other cour­ses and trainee­ships also pro­vide ‘credit’ step­ping-stones to un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees.

A gen­eral take-home mes­sage when scan­ning the web for ed­u­cated views on the is­sue is that if a VCE stu­dent wants to pur­sue ter­tiary stud­ies as soon as they fin­ish sec­ondary school­ing, they should try to get the rank­ing re­quired for their course.

But if they do not, it is not the end of the world.

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