'It just gets worse': NAPLAN wait stressing out year 9 students

Despite getting band 8s in two of his year 9 NAPLAN exams and sitting above the national and NSW average, Owen said he is "annoyed" by his results. Most students across the state got theirs back this week.

"I got band 8 in everything else but I got a band 7 in writing, so I have to waste time sitting another test," he said.

Owen, 15, who goes to a high school in Sydney's west, is in the first cohort of year 9 students who must meet a new minimum literacy and numeracy standard to receive their Higher School Certificate.

Achieving band 8s in the year 9 NAPLAN reading, writing and maths tests is their first chance to do this.

Students who don't meet that grade will get two chances every year over the next eight years (in years 10, 11 and 12 and then for five years after that) to meet the minimum standards by passing online tests.

"Most of my friends have to sit [at least one online] test," Owen said. "Lots of people were stressed just in case they don't get it in the second attempt. I always use NAPLAN as a guideline for where I sit in relation to the rest of the country but it's just way more stressful this year."

For other students such as Isabella Mavlian, 14, who attends a high school in Sydney's south, the wait for their NAPLAN results continues.

"I still haven't gotten them and a lot of people from other schools have been talking about it, it makes you nervous," Isabella said.

"I probably won't get all three band 8s. As the years go on [school] does get a lot more stressful and, as you have to sit more tests, it just gets worse."

Isabella said having several chances to pass the online exams is a good thing but the tests will take time away from studying for school subjects.

"A lot of people will be studying more for them because it actually counts more. Some of my friends who have anxiety are really stressed about it, it doesn't help."

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said the new minimum standard will ensure students have "essential skills for life after school".

"We need to be careful to ensure NAPLAN remains a diagnostic tool and that schools, parents and policymakers do not overvalue the role of standardised tests," Mr Stokes said.

"[But] I am yet to hear a good reason why we shouldn't expect students to have a basic level of literacy and numeracy when they leave school."

Chief executive of the NSW Business Chamber, Stephen Cartwright, said students are currently leaving high school without "the foundation skills that would make them employable".

"Business owners have to spend too long getting new workers up to speed with basic numeracy and literacy - skills that really should have been taught in the classroom," Mr Cartwright said.

"We need to be doing a better job through the HSC of supporting the needs of the majority of students who move on to vocational training or directly into the workforce rather than university."

However, Owen's mother Jacqui Legender said the new requirement is "ridiculous" and that the NAPLAN exam doesn't reflect real-world literacy and numeracy requirements.

"They gave them a few pictures as stimulus and the kids were just expected to write something," Ms Legender said.

"What happens if my son goes on and gets a 97 on his ATAR? Is the department still going to withhold his HSC certificate because he didn't pass this silly little writing test?"

She said many parents are already worrying about their children's HSC based on their year 9 results.

"He's got a friend who has to sit all three of [the online tests] and he told Owen that his mum and dad said he probably can't play soccer next year because he's got to get all this sorted out," Ms Legender said.

The story 'It just gets worse': NAPLAN wait stressing out year 9 students first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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