Year 12 students who fail to meet the state government’s new literacy and numeracy standard and do not receive their HSC will still be able to get an ATAR and go to university, the body responsible for admissions has confirmed.
Students can sit HSC exams and receive an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, which is calculated by the Universities Admissions Centre independently of the government, without qualifying for their HSC. There are no plans to change this once the minimum standard is put in place in 2020, according to a spokeswoman for UAC.
Only nine students of nearly 68,000 HSC candidates received an ATAR without getting their HSC last year, but this number could balloon once the new standard is in place, she said.
“We haven’t had any direct instructions for change so as of now ??? students can receive an ATAR and not be eligible for the HSC,” UAC’s spokeswoman said.
“We already have a few in this category, but there may be many more students.”
The University of Sydney, the University of NSW and the University of Western Sydney have all confirmed they are in discussions with UAC over whether the new standard will affect the ATAR, but a spokeswoman for Sydney University said major changes were unlikely.
“At this stage we don’t expect the [new standards] to have a significant impact on the University of Sydney’s entry process,” she said.
The UAC spokeswoman said the centre is seeking a meeting with the new head of the NSW Education Standards Authority, which replaced the Board of Studies in January.
“It could be that they want to include the minimum standards in the ATAR or make the HSC a requirement for the ATAR,” she said.
“Because we haven’t had any instructions, I’d say that [isn’t] the way they’re leaning.”
NESA said it would not be seeking changes to ATAR eligibility in response to the new minimum standards.
“NESA does not instruct UAC about the calculation of the ATAR,” a spokeswoman for the agency said.
“[The minimum standard] is designed to help ensure students have the skills for success when they leave school and assure parents, businesses and the community that students with an HSC have functional literacy and numeracy skills.”
However, senior lecturer of English education at the University of Technology Sydney and former English inspector at the Board of Studies Don Carter said existing K-10 syllabuses already taught literacy and numeracy skills.
“The new requirements are really quite superfluous,” he said.
“This is an example of another testing regime coming in over the top of the curriculum and sucking up resources and time to get kids through the test.”
The standard, announced in July last year, will require students to either receive Band 8 or above in the year 9 NAPLAN tests or pass online reading, writing and numeracy tests in order to receive their HSC.
Fairfax Media last year reported that more than half of year 9 students got below Band 8 in the NAPLAN test.