HSC Reforms and Minimum Standards of Literacy and Numeracy

Next week, our Year 7 and Year 9 students will be completing testing in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). NAPLAN is an annual assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It is likely that the majority of our secondary students completing NAPLAN testing next week will have previously undertaken testing in this program in their earlier years of schooling.

While there is no requirement for our students to prepare for their NAPLAN tests, it is important that they complete all relevant components to the best of their ability. This is especially relevant in light of recent reforms to the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC) which, from 2020, will include a minimum literacy and numeracy standard.

The data we receive from The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the independent statutory authority responsible for the management of NAPLAN testing, provides crucial information for our teachers about the literacy and numeracy competencies of our students. Each year, our Heads of Department carefully analyse this data in an effort to identify any broad areas requiring ongoing attention. Importantly, the data also provides an overview of each student’s performance over time and allows our teachers to identify learning gaps or the need for extension work as applicable. NAPLAN thus plays a key role in building the profile of every student’s individual learning needs and allows our teachers to differentiate the curriculum accordingly.

In 2016, the NSW Government announced that from 2020, all Year 12 students must reach a minimum standard of functional literacy and numeracy to receive the HSC. The award of the HSC credential from 2020 will be the tangible indication to tertiary providers and employers that the student has met the minimum standard of literacy and numeracy. Currently the award of the HSC does not require minimum standards to be met. Under the new reforms, students may “prequalify” by achieving Band 8 or above in their Year 9 NAPLAN reading, writing and numeracy tests. Students undertaking Year 9 NAPLAN in 2017 (the Year 12 HSC students of 2020) will have the first opportunity to prequalify for the new minimum standard. Data from previous Year 9 NAPLAN testing for AISHK students suggests strongly that the vast majority of our students will meet these minimum requirements via their Year 9 NAPLAN outcomes.

Students who do not meet the minimum requirements in any component will have multiple opportunities after Year 9 NAPLAN to demonstrate that they meet the standards by taking online reading, writing and numeracy tests available in Years 10 to 12. Each student may sit each of the tests up to twice a year in Years 10, 11 and 12. The tests are currently being developed by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and will be available towards the end of Term 1, 2018.

For further information on the minimum standard of literacy and numeracy please refer to:

The schedule of NAPLAN testing for Year 7 and Year 9 is as follows:

Monday 22 May

8:30 am – 10:15 am Year 7 Language Conventions/Writing

11:00 am – 12:45 pm Year 9 Language Conventions/Writing

Tuesday 23 May

8:30 am – 9:45 am Year 7 Reading

11:00 am – 12:15 pm Year 9 Reading

Wednesday 24 May

8:30 am – 9:45 am Year 7 Numeracy

11:00 am – 12:15 pm Year 9 Numeracy


McCorkell, Chris

Chris McCorkell | Dean of Studies, Secondary