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Thread: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

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    Administrator Trebla's Avatar
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    Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    For Year 12 students in NSW, their English mark accounts for at least 20 per cent of their ATAR. Mandating that so much of one’s ATAR must be sourced from one school subject introduces systematic bias against those who are disproportionately more likely to struggle with that subject.

    I was fortunate the Year 12 subject with which I struggled the most (and failed!) did not comprise 20 per cent of my university entry mark.

    As an educational psychologist specialising in student motivation, I am concerned about the effects of this policy on students’ inclination to work towards an ATAR they fear will be undermined, regardless of their efforts, by their English mark. Is this fair when other students’ motivation may be disproportionately boosted when they know their ATAR will be assisted by their English mark?.

    Some states and territories mandate inclusion of English in the ATAR whereas others do not, which means students in different states and territories may have different opportunities for university entrance.

    Students may also end up locked out of post-school pathways that have no direct relevance to their Year 12 English mark. For example, their mark may lower their ATAR to the point where they miss the cut-off for a STEM-specific university course.

    The texts I studied in Year 12 English taught me things about myself and the society in which I live that other school subjects could not. English occupies an important place in the Year 12 curriculum. I believe it should be mandatory to study it. But I am not sure it should account for a mandatory 20 per cent of a student’s ATAR.

    One option is to retain English as a mandatory subject, but to calculate an ATAR that is compromised solely of a student’s best subjects, regardless of what they are. For many students, this will include their English mark.

    The concern here is students will not try in English once they know it does not have to factor into their ATAR (a challenge well-familiar to all other subjects). Perhaps, then, a student’s Year 12 credential might also report on their satisfactory or unsatisfactory completion of English.

    Another option is to calculate an ATAR based on the student’s 10 best units, and to calculate a separate ATAR-E, that includes English. Then universities and employers can decide which measure they will use.

    The mandated amount that English factors into the ATAR could also be reduced; say, from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.

    As questions are raised about the utility and transparency of the ATAR and subject scaling , it may be time to also debate one of the major influences on a student’s score: the 20 per cent accounted for by his or her English mark.


    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/...03-p4zj7d.html

    Some interesting suggestions made here. What are your thoughts on English having to contribute to least 20% of the ATAR?
    Last edited by Trebla; 6 Jun 2018 at 12:00 AM.

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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    I'd like it more if English was a compulsory 2 units for fundamental skills BUT rather than the current course it's an 'English requirements' course where you get marked as competent/not competent. Kind of hand in assessment based with just a single exam (not that much weighting but shows that you have the ability to be pretty consistent - to make sure people aren't just handing in tutor work. Alternatively you could do portfolio work + grammar/English skills topic tests.

    I'd also like to see more short answer questions, rather than 4 essays...

    Then so it's fair for people who are good at English, you can do 4 units of English (a course similar to the Advanced we have now that can count to your ATAR and the two current extensions) APART from the compulsory 2 of fundamental English.

    Then you have to do 8 units that count to your ATAR + English requirements (rather than 10 units).
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    i agree

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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Honestly haven't used stuff from english a single time in uni so far and it didn't even help with the 2 reports we wrote. I'm 100% sure I won't need to analyse poetry in the future so I agree that it should not be compulsory since it's actually useless in my opinion at least. I guess you can say it helped my vocabulary SLIGHTLY but you can just learn that in your own time not as a subject that weighs 20% to your ATAR.
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Sure, English needs to count. I've never liked English in high school, but doesn't mean it isn't important. I didn't perform well as I did, but I did learn a lot. It's the issue with that English provides so much work within just two units, that people just give up and memorise the essays. And that defeats the point of English.

    In addition to the heavy workload, too much pressure on hsc students to perform well.

    I have another thought. What if we remove all scaling?
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    I also agree with you guys on this one, I believe either english and maths should be compulsory or neither of them should be.
    Although I enjoyed learning about the concepts and themes covered in english the exams are ridiculous.
    Writing 4 essays and memorising them (like most people do) defeats the whole point of learning and ruins the subject for everyone.

    The english syllabus needs a massive rework as this memorising component is a fundamental flaw in the subject (like many other HSC subjects) but unlike those other subjects there is very little application of this memorised content.
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie M View Post
    I also agree with you guys on this one, I believe either english and maths should be compulsory or neither of them should be.
    Although I enjoyed learning about the concepts and themes covered in english the exams are ridiculous.
    Writing 4 essays and memorising them (like most people do) defeats the whole point of learning and ruins the subject for everyone.

    The english syllabus needs a massive rework as this memorising component is a fundamental flaw in the subject (like many other HSC subjects) but unlike those other subjects there is very little application of this memorised content.
    Totally agree!!


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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    I believe that English and Maths should be compulsory, or at least English (Like we have currently.)

    These faculties are the building blocks of most of society and the schools of thought that follow. English is crucial, and I don't mean learning how to analyse poems, but learning philosophical ideas and how thought has progressed overtime. Learning to shape an argument, articulate individual ideas and challenge yourself are crucial in my opinion. In addition, English typically covers classical and postmodern texts so we are able to gain an understanding of how language and context is shaped overtime.

    For maths, from my signature it is clear that I like it. Many fields in life have a foundation in complex problem solving and mathematical thought; Science, Engineering, Computing, Economics for direct mathematics, and Law, medicine, commerce etc for complex problem solving. Mathematics in the HSC teachers you to engage with unseen problems and provide solutions with the tools you have learnt. This is in essence how life works in most cases; You are presented with a problem you have or haven't encountered before, and you must devise a solution to that problem in a timely manner.

    And if you still hate either or both, at least be nice to your teachers
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Quote Originally Posted by si2136 View Post
    I have another thought. What if we remove all scaling?
    There'll be like zero incentive to do more advanced subjects if that ever happened lol

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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    I think we are debating about the wrong thing. I think what we should be focusing on instead is making what we learn in English to be more useful in real life (instead of encouraging students to rote learn to get good marks) and ensuring that uni actually have other ways to weigh entrance (besides the ATAR-but to be honest, it already does-and I feel like the article has oversensationalised the impact of English on one's ability to gain entry into their desired course and the inequities it has resulted-considering also just how many unis offer bonus points schemes for all sorts of things and it was only revealed a year or two ago that almost no major unis in Australia actually have anywhere close to the minimum ATAR entry mark they say on their brochures advertising courses. I don't think we will make the most significant impact or generate the best educational outcomes by focusing on weighting of different subjects (because that is just shifting the focus from what is wrong fundamentally with what we educate instead)

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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    english is a horrible subject

    basically teaches people how to write essays about nothing

    it's incredibly boring and nobody likes doing it, including the few people who actually like the subject

    it should be replaced with history writing instead

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    A1P
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    WA's method is quite good. English is a compulsory subject requiring minimum of Pass (to get the equiv of HSC Certificate). After that, for ATAR it's treated the same as other subjects i.e. if it's not among the highest number of subjects that count toward ATAR aggregate then it doesn't count, so doesn't affect your ATAR.
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    You would expect that a person being prepared for a professional career in the world; university; etc to have a strong grasp of the English vocabulary and language, would you not?

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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Quote Originally Posted by A1P View Post
    WA's method is quite good. English is a compulsory subject requiring minimum of Pass (to get the equiv of HSC Certificate). After that, for ATAR it's treated the same as other subjects i.e. if it's not among the highest number of subjects that count toward ATAR aggregate then it doesn't count, so doesn't affect your ATAR.
    Damn why do we not have that LOL
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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Quote Originally Posted by wannaspoon View Post
    You would expect that a person being prepared for a professional career in the world; university; etc to have a strong grasp of the English vocabulary and language, would you not?
    Would agree with that if Y12 English taught about technical/professional writing instead of studying century-old poems & novels.

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    Re: Including English in every ATAR is unfair to students with other strengths

    Quote Originally Posted by wannaspoon View Post
    You would expect that a person being prepared for a professional career in the world; university; etc to have a strong grasp of the English vocabulary and language, would you not?
    It does help with writing philosophical and legal essays at uni tbh, uni doesn't teach u how to write so you tend to rely on high school education for that, and marking feedback is minimal

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