What is Selective School?
The NSW schools system consists of comprehensive high schools and a small core of selective high schools.
Selective schools are government high schools operated by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training that have accepted their students based upon their academic merit.
There are currently 17 fully selective schools in addition to 25 partially selective high schools (with selective classes) and 4 agricultural high schools. Agricultural high schools are selective high schools which emphasise the study of agriculture. One virtual selective secondary school, Aurora College, offering selective placement in Year 7. For Aurora College, only students intending to enrol in a government high school in a rural and remote location are eligible to apply.
Why choose a Selective School?
Selective high schools cater for high achieving, academically talented students by providing an educationally enriched environment. These schools can provide intellectual stimulation by grouping talented students together, concentrating school resources and using specialized teaching methods.
Students are expected to perform academically at a higher standard than other schools in the state. Generally, students in Selective High Schools achieve higher HSC results than their counterparts in comprehensive schools.
Selective Schools Exam
The Selective Schools Test is designed by the Australian Council for Educational Research, which has a long background in scholastic aptitude testing. Questions are written by special teams and then tried out on small samples in other states.
The tests are developed to be as unrelated to the syllabus. They are designed to assess higher level reasoning. This allows ability and aptitude rather than achievement to be measured. The main emphasis is on thinking with words, numbers and ideas. The reason for the heavy emphasis on English and Mathematics is that they are considered to be predictors of high school achievement.
The questions are designed to have moderate difficulty and to show the difference between levels of achievement. The content of such tests is normally checked to be fair and non-discriminatory. There should not be any misleading or trick questions. Questions are designed to have certain technical characteristics so that they produce results which are consistent. The emphasis on multiple choice questions means that the options for each question have to be equally realistic so that the more capable pupils are identified.
Because there are so many applicants for the available selective school places entry is very competitive. It is not unusual for some primary schools not to be able to place even one of their pupils into a selective school.
Application and Criteria for Entry
It is important to carefully read all the instructions provided in the application booklet and fully understand all the requirements. However, many parents face difficulties in deciding which schools are appropriate for their children and how to prioritise the schools to ensure the best outcome. This chapter serves as a guide to parents on how to successfully complete the application form with particular focus on the following:
What is a Opportunity Classes?
Opportunity classes cater for highly achieving Year 5 and 6 academically gifted students who may otherwise be without classmates at their own academic and social level. These classes help gifted and talented students to learn by grouping them with other gifted and talented students, teaching them in specialised ways and providing educational materials at the appropriate level.
There are 75 primary schools with opportunity classes across NSW.
Gifted and talented students who would benefit most from enrolment in opportunity classes are those who have superior to very superior academic ability which is matched by exceptionally high classroom performance.
Students who are placed attend the opportunity class full-time in Years 5 and 6 at the primary school with an opportunity class. It is a two-year placement program. In the majority of cases, students who accept a place in the opportunity class will leave their current school to attend the school with an opportunity class. There is no provision to apply for Year 6 placement.
Application is usually made when the student is in Year 4. The application process becomes available at the end of April each year.
The test consists of two parts, each of thirty minutes duration. Each part contains a mixture of English language, mathematics and general ability questions. The test will consist of multiple-choice questions with answers recorded on a computer-marked answer sheet.
What is NAPLAN?
The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual national assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9. All students in these year levels are expected to participate in tests in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy. All government and non-government education authorities have contributed to the development of NAPLAN materials.
Why do students do NAPLAN tests?
NAPLAN is the measure through which governments, education authorities, schools, teachers and parents can determine whether or not young Australians have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for other learning and for their productive and rewarding participation in the community.
The tests provide parents and schools with an understanding of how individual students are performing at the time of the tests. They also provide schools, states and territories with information about how education programs are working and which areas need to be prioritised for improvement.
NAPLAN tests are one aspect of each school’s assessment and reporting process, and do not replace the extensive, ongoing assessments made by teachers about each student’s performance.
What will be tested?
NAPLAN is a skills test. It tests the sorts of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life, such as reading, writing, spelling, grammar and numeracy. The content of each test is informed by the National Statement of Learning for English and National Statement of Learning for Mathematics which underpin state and territory learning frameworks.
NAPLAN tests will be aligned with the Australian Curriculum once it has been substantially implemented in schools
What types of questions are in the tests?
Questions are multiple choice or require a short written response for all tests except the writing test. Students are expected to write a continuous text for the writing task.
Who will run the tests?
NAPLAN tests are conducted at schools and administered by classroom teachers, school deputies or the principal. Each state and territory is responsible for marking the tests in accordance with strict guidelines and processes.
Can my child be prepared for the NAPLAN tests?
NAPLAN is not a test of content. Instead, it tests skills in literacy and numeracy that are developed over time through the school curriculum. Teachers will ensure that students are familiar with the test formats and will provide appropriate support and guidance. Excessive preparation is not useful and can lead to unnecessary anxiety. If you have any questions about your child’s preparation for NAPLAN, you are encouraged to make a time to speak with their teacher.
NAPLAN tests are constructed to give students an opportunity to demonstrate skills they have learned over time through the school curriculum, and NAPLAN test days should be treated as just another routine event on the school calendar. The best way you can help your child prepare for NAPLAN is to reassure them that NAPLAN tests are just one part of their school program, and to urge them to simply do the best they can on the day.
What additional support can schools provide for students with disability?
All students are encouraged to participate in NAPLAN tests. Students with disability may qualify for adjustments which reflect the support normally provided in the classroom. Students who have a temporary injury may also be reasonably accommodated. Additional information about these adjustments, including examples illustrating the application of adjustments permitted for students with disability, can be viewed in the Adjustments for students with disability section.
A formal exemption may be granted for students who have severe or complex disabilities.
How is NAPLAN performance measured?
NAPLAN is not a pass or fail type test. Individual student performance is shown on a national assessment scale for each test. Each test scale has ten bands and all year levels are reported on the same scale. Six bands are reported for each year level for each test. The single scale allows students, teachers and parents to monitor progress across the years and compare results to those in previous years as students advance through school.
The second lowest band at each year level represents the national minimum standard for students for that year level. A result at the national minimum standard indicates that the student demonstrated the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed to participate fully in that year level. The performance of individual students can be compared to the average performance of all students in Australia.
What happens if my child is sick on one of the test days?
Schools can organise for individual students who are absent at the time of testing to complete missed tests at another time during testing week.
When will I receive my child’s NAPLAN results?
NAPLAN results will be provided to schools from mid-August to mid-September, depending on your state or territory test administration authority.
The same report format is used for every student in Australia. The school will notify you when the reports are being sent home. If your child sits the tests and you do not receive a report, you should contact the school. Individual student results are strictly confidential.
How are NAPLAN test results used?
Students and parents may use individual results to discuss achievements and progress with teachers.
Teachers use results to help them identify students who require greater challenges or additional support.
Schools use results to identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching programs and to set goals in literacy and numeracy.
School systems and governments use results to review programs and support offered to schools.