BRUSHING UP: Emmanuel Anglican College year 12 students James Rodgers, Connor Winchester, Jemima Masterson and Phoebe Scott learning how to tackle the HSC at Southern Cross University in Lismore.
BRUSHING UP: Emmanuel Anglican College year 12 students James Rodgers, Connor Winchester, Jemima Masterson and Phoebe Scott learning how to tackle the HSC at Southern Cross University in Lismore. Marc Stapelberg

Tougher HSC tests aim to lift NSW numeracy and literacy

STUDENTS in their final year of high school will face more rigorous testing before receiving their higher school certificates under reforms aimed at lifting New South Wales school graduate standards.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said from 2020, students would need to meet a Year 9 minimum numeracy and literacy standard to receive their higher school certificates.

"Evidence shows us that students perform better when schools focus on improving essential literacy and numeracy skills for all students," he said.

A raft of other reforms are due to come into effect for Year 12 students from 2019, including "better, fairer assessments to reduce excessive student stress", introducing a science extension course and encouraging more students to study maths at extension level.

Syllabuses will be updated for English, maths, science and history, and exam questions will be revisited to "encourage deeper analysis".

"These changes will strengthen the integrity and international standing of the HSC and better prepare our students for work, training, university and for life after school," Mr Piccoli said.

The NSW Teachers Federation said the Federal Government must honour its commitment to fully fund the NSW Gonski reforms if the new standards were to be met.

"Requiring and supporting all students to achieve a higher standard in literacy and numeracy will preserve the quality of the HSC as a world-class credential," NSWTF acting president Gary Zadkovich said.

"Gonski funding is essential if all students are to receive the support they need to achieve this literacy and numeracy standard.

"While encouraging more students to study maths at a higher level and offering a science extension course are positive steps, it is imperative that we maintain balance in the curriculum and have a complete range of learning opportunities that reflect the diverse skills and needs of all our students.

"A stronger emphasis on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) should not undermine the social, cultural and economic benefits gained through the study of the broad range of subjects, including those in the humanities and arts at extension levels.

"Steps to reduce student stress in assessments are also welcomed."

Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW president Tom Alegounarias said this year's 70,000 HSC students would not be affected by the changes.

"The HSC hasn't been updated in 17 years," he said.

"It has a proud record and these changes will ensure the certificate remains modern, to meet the needs of all students." -ARM NEWSDESK
 


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