Principals are concerned that new changes to the HSC could cause more harm than good.
Under the changes, introduced by the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, in July, Year 9 students will soon have to get a mark of Band 8 or higher in their NAPLAN tests to qualify for their HSC in Year 12.
However, parents and principals say this prerequisite could see more than half the state’s students fail at the first hurdle to get their HSC.
Labor’s education spokesman, Jihad Dib, said the changes place “enormous pressure” on students from the age of 14 to pass the exam.
“The announcement was made because it sounds good but there was no thought behind it. The more educators have had time to reflect on it, the more they express these concerns,” Dib told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Many kids are just not mature enough at 14, they're not ready. It labels them as failures to begin with.”
Dib added that students who underperform at school, as well as those who come from non-English-speaking backgrounds will be hit the hardest by the changes.
However, Piccoli has defended the reforms, saying that they will encourage students to “take the early years of school more seriously”.
“There is this perception among students that you don't have to take high school seriously until you get to year 10 or 11 or 12,” he said.
“Students who don't meet the standard in Year 9 will be identified early and supported to improve their performance.”
Piccoli conceded that lower socio-economic schools were likely to have more students struggling to meet the benchmark, but says he is confident “those schools will get the most funding under the needs-based funding model”.