NSW government backflips on Year 9 NAPLAN policy

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has scrapped the state's most controversial education policy and will no longer force year 9 students to score three band 8s in NAPLAN to qualify for the HSC.

The change, which parents and many principals and teachers demanded, will mean that NAPLAN results from year 9 will not be linked to a student being awarded their HSC.

Last year was the first time the policy, introduced by former education minister Adrian Piccoli, was in place and almost 70 per cent of year 9 students did not meet the requirements.

NSW had a lift in year 9 NAPLAN results in 2017, but many warned it was a "sugar hit" and the improvements were a result of schools preparing their students for the test.

Rob Stokes.

Rob Stokes.

Under the changes, HSC students will still have to meet a minimum standard through short online tests in reading, writing and numeracy.

Mr Stokes said the introduction of a minimum standard  was a reform that had widespread support, ensuring all students who receive the HSC have the literacy and numeracy skills needed to succeed in life after school.

But he said he recognised linking NAPLAN tests to the HSC placed unnecessary pressure on year 9 students.

“NAPLAN should be a simple check-up, not a major operation. It is one tool used to assess educational progress – not a high-stakes test,” Mr Stokes said.

“Allowing students to demonstrate the HSC minimum standard early with their year 9 NAPLAN scores inadvertently transformed NAPLAN into a high-stakes test.”

Tests will be taken in years 10, 11 or 12, in a process similar to that of obtaining the NSW learner driver's licence.

“These tests are available for students to take any time their teachers think they are ready, removing the stress and protecting the value of the HSC,” Mr Stokes said.

The NSW Teachers Federation said it supported a minimum standard but oppossed that standard being linked to NAPLAN results.

“It was an inappropriate use of NAPLAN due to the extremely narrow focus of the tests and the lack of relevance to curriculum content,” federation president Maurie Mulheron said.

NSW Education Standards Authority chief executive David de Carvalho backed the change.

The change does not affect current year 10 students.