Identifying effective practice in subject selection processes

Completing Year 12 or an equivalent qualification is a gateway to many successful post-school pathways.
It is important that all young people are given the opportunity to complete Year 12, or an equivalent pathway, particularly students who are at risk of not completing school due to their socioeconomic disadvantage.
Supporting school completion:  The importance of engagement and effective teaching (CESE)

Scout provides several information reports which can support decisions relating to Year 12 school completion, student subject selections and HSC course offerings.

The ATAR Bands Across Years report can be found in the HSC app.

ATAR Bands Across Years report

The ATAR Bands Across Years report provides a snapshot of the school’s ATAR outcomes over years broken down into ATAR ‘bands’. The term ‘bands’ is used in this report to denote a range of ATAR results (e.g. 0-50) rather than to refer to a Band result by a student (e.g. a Band 5 in English). A student’s ATAR is included in this report if the student completed most of their HSC subjects at the selected school.

Use the report to:

View the count of students in each ATAR band over the last four calendar years, and to determine whether strategies applied over the teaching curriculum are having a positive impact on the ATAR outcomes of students.

Key questions:

  • What changes have occurred in the proportions of students in each ATAR band over time?
  • What changes have occurred in the total number of students gaining ATARs over time?

Scenario: Evaluation of the effectiveness of subject selection processes

You are the principal of a large High School. You believe improvements to the subject selection processes may be required to ensure students are choosing subjects at an appropriate level of challenge, and which contribute to their post-school success.

Focus: How has ATAR attainment changed over time?

  1. Open your ATAR Bands Across Years report (found in the HSC app).
  2. Click on the ellipsis (three dots) at the top right corner of the chart. Please note this ellipsis may not be visible until your cursor is in the same vicinity.
  3. Choose the option ‘Show data’. This will show the chart as well as a table with the numbers of students in each ATAR band. Calculate the total number for each year.


  • How have numbers of students attaining an ATAR changed over time? Consider contributing factors to this change.
  • What role could subject selection processes play in increasing the numbers of student attaining an ATAR in future years?

Focus: Are students selecting an appropriate pattern of study?

  1. Open your School HSC Results report (found in the HSC app).
  2. The default selection is English. Please watch this video to learn more about boxplots.
  3. Compare the performance of students in different subjects within the same KLA. For example, are students in Advanced English achieving the highest results? What is the distribution of marks? What do the course median and mean (and the difference between them) tell us? What does the performance attainment for the middle 50% of the cohort tell us? What is the minimum mark in Advanced English? Would this student have been more appropriately placed in Standard English?
  4. Open the NAPLAN informing HSC report (found in the HSC app). This report allows a school to view whether a student’s performance in Stage 5 affects their choices for Stage 6.
  5. Select the second tab at the bottom of the page: HSC Course Selection by NAPLAN 9 Band Categories.
  6. Under Course Name deselect English (Standard).
  7. Under the HSC Key Learning Area select your focus KLA.
  8. Select the NAPLAN domain most applicable to the KLA. For example, Reading and Writing skills are essential for the successful completion of HSIE subjects. Mathematics and Science may select Numeracy as the key domain for comparison.
  9. Change selections to reflect other relationships. Some examples might include Science KLA and Numeracy Domain, English KLA and Reading or Writing Domains. Mathematics KLA and Numeracy Domain.


  • Did students in the top 2 NAPLAN bands enrol in appropriately challenging HSC courses?
  • Are students in the bottom 2 NAPLAN bands selecting easier courses? A school with an aspirational ethos may wish to encourage lower-performing students to complete more challenging subjects.
  • What implications for teaching and learning are there when students have not demonstrated an appropriate level of skills in a NAPLAN domain?

Once you have the data

You can use this information to review the subject selection processes in your school and to ensure that students are supported to select the most appropriate pathway of study in Stage 6. We highly recommend using Scout data in conjunction with internal data sources.

Where to next?

You can access resources and information relating to HSC completion here:

Careers Advisory Service

UAC Subject Compass

NESA Year 10 Subject Selection for Stage 6

NESA Advice for students choosing HSC courses

CESE Publication: Why aren’t students studying higher level maths?

CESE Publication: Supporting school completion: The importance of engagement and effective teaching

CESE Publication: Turning aspirations into reality: How teachers can support students’ transition to university and vocational education and training

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