Parents and teachers are campaigning to reverse a NSW government decision to make NAPLAN scores a requirement for passing the HSC.

Year nine students will have to achieve a band eight score on the tests, a level more than half failed to meet last year.

A forum held on 9 May, the week of this year’s NAPLAN (National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy) tests, discussed campaigning to combat the changes.

Martine Beaumont, the parent of a year ten student, explained how the change was, “telling kids as young as year eight that HSC was not an option for them”.

Labor MP and Shadow minister for Education Jihad Dib highlighted the absurdity of the policy, with students who don’t achieve the band eight in year nine able to sit another test where they are only required to achieve a band six. So why not just make that the requirement in the first place?

Joanna Kolevris, a year ten student, spoke of how much energy and time is wasted on NAPLAN, “We spend up to five periods on just practice tests.”

Robin Ewing, Professor of Teacher Education at Sydney University, explained that the tests are, “actually working against what we know is good teaching” by pushing schools to “teach to the test” and “increase the inequity in our system”. Most teachers know their students’ needs already, she said and the tests, “are not telling them much that they don’t already know”.

There is growing concern amongst parents and teachers about the impact NAPLAN tests are having on students.

NAPLAN is not simply a measure of students’ learning but is increasingly used to evaluate teacher performance. Publishing school rankings on the MySchool website increases school inequality as wealthier parents move their children to better resourced, better performing schools.

An online petition against the changes to year nine tests in NSW already has almost 14,000 signatures. Parents and teachers want 10,000 signatures on a paper petition to force a debate in parliament.

By Ruben Fela

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