The 8 What works best themes below offer helpful ways of thinking about aspects of teaching practice. They are not discrete but overlap and connect with one another in complex ways. Use the guided journey to see what the 8 themes look like for the HSC minimum standard.

What works best: HSC minimum standard

How do teachers’ expectations of students affect teaching practice?

Theme 1 – High expectations

Teachers’ beliefs about their students influence how they teach and interact with them. High expectations are linked with higher performance for all students. The reverse can also be true. Students may achieve less than their potential if expectations of their ability are low.

The HSC minimum standard is itself an indicator of high expectations for students leaving school. It requires students to demonstrate the literacy and numeracy capabilities they will need for everyday life.

Students are more likely to achieve the standard on their first attempt, when they are determined as ready to sit the test, where teachers convey high expectations of success.

Teachers can view a School Discovery that demonstrates how high expectations underpin the approach to the HSC minimum standard at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (staff only).

School Discovery: Newtown High School of the Performing Arts

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Newtown High School of the Performing Arts has introduced personalised learning conversations in Stages 4 and 5 to prepare students to manage any anxiety about the HSC minimum standard tests.

These conversations build grit, persistence and goal orientation.

Teaching students to take responsibility for their own learning through the achievement of learning goals is a strategy used to achieve the school target of all students obtaining a Higher School Certificate.

The key support for students is through the school philosophy of improving through mistakes and it’s emphasis on student responsibility for improvement.

Every student in Years 9 to 12 is taught to ask key questions about their learning.

Staff are trained in conducting coaching conversations, how to write SMART goals and how to use the language of growth.

Each Year 9 and 10 student meets with the teacher-coach 8 times a year.

Just before report time, students bring evidence to the session to show their progress.

The HSC minimum standard tests are communicated to students as part of the goal-setting expectation.

The tests are according to the deputy principal a snapshot of where their literacy and numeracy skills are on the day and a really good way of checking that the students in Year 10 are on track to achieve their literacy and numeracy goals.

After this, students write a reflection with teachers and parents as the audience.

It is this non-faculty based report that is most valued by teachers, parents and students themselves.

Students feel they are known, valued and cared for and that the HSC minimum standard is simply part of a process and achievable.

[End of transcript]

What learning gains can be made through explicit teaching?

Theme 2 – Explicit teaching

Explicit teaching practices involve teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover that information themselves. Students who experience explicit teaching practices make greater learning gains than students who do not experience these practices.

The HSC minimum standard resource provides teachers with teaching strategies and lesson materials to support explicit teaching of identified areas of need in writing, numeracy, and reading. These strategies can be adapted for use across the curriculum in Stages 5–6 to support achievement of the HSC minimum standard.

Teachers can use HSC minimum standard templates to create customised Areas of Focus in PLAN2 that support explicit teaching and monitoring of identified reading, writing or numeracy skills in the context of their syllabuses.

English as an Additional Language/Dialect (EAL/D) resources (staff only) have been designed to support the learning needs of EAL/D students in working towards the HSC minimum standard. There is also a recorded professional learning session: HSC minimum standard and EAL/D students (requires Adobe Connect).

Teachers can view School Discoveries that explore explicit teaching practice in literacy and numeracy at Kurri Kurri High School (staff only) and Ingleburn High School (staff only).

Note: This video includes information about the former Best Start Year 7 assessment. This assessment is no longer available. Visit the literacy and numeracy website for the current suite of assessment tools.

School Discovery: Kurri Kurri High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Kurri Kurri High School determined that to improve their numeracy results, they needed to improve students’ comprehension of worded problems, that involved numeracy.

They combined strategies from both literacy and numeracy programs, to develop the ‘Think board’.

The Think board encourages students to consolidate an understanding of basic numeracy skills and comprehension of word-problems.

Teachers have used feedback from the ‘Best Start Year 7’ assessment, which is mapped to the national numeracy learning progression, to identify the type of questions students need support in solving.

This has enabled teachers to use the Think board, as a formative assessment strategy to identify the misconceptions students hold.

Teachers use discussion time to model a variety of strategies that could be used to solve word problems and address misconceptions held by students.

All Stage 4 students use Think boards as a ‘do now’ activity to start lessons in mathematics.

Teachers in all learning areas have introduced this model, as a way to improve numeracy in their subject.

They have noticed that by unpacking the numeracy demands using Think boards, students are gaining a deeper understanding of the concept in their learning area.

Kurri Kurri High School are now introducing Think boards to their partner primary schools, to assist with transitioning from Stage 3 to Stage 4.

By working with the local primary schools, they can ensure that students from K–12, have consistent language and practices when solving numeracy word problems.

[End of transcript]


School Discovery: Ingleburn High School

Narrator:

NSW high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Ingleburn High School has developed a whole school focus on professional learning for teachers working closely with the learning and support teacher.

Adjusting the curriculum has enabled more students to work with the learning and support teacher and introduced processes for feedback to KLA staff on students’ strengths and areas for growth.

They have introduced a third elective for Stage 5 mixing Year 9 and Year 10 students, in a high-interest elective of their choice.

All Year 10 students are withdrawn from this elective for 6 to 7 weeks to complete a skills development program called catch-up for learning.

This program is designed by the learning support team who have identified the skills to be taught in this withdrawal program.

Using evidence provided by class teachers and a range of data sources.

The catch-up lessons are delivered by the learning and support teacher who provides feedback of student progress to all teachers.

By involving all Year 10 students, there is no stigma attached to leaving a classroom.

The learning and support teacher delivers advice on adjusting assessments and is a teacher mentor or expert in the teaching of literacy and numeracy.

They model strategies through team teaching.

They demonstrate how to use both classroom observations and work samples to look for evidence of where-to-next in literacy and numeracy skill development.

Students HSC minimum standard test results provide further information for the school to plan quality professional learning in the teaching of literacy and numeracy.

This is planned 12 months in advance. The learning and support teacher is a key resource in supporting this whole school responsibility for student achievement.

[End of transcript]

Professional learning to support the explicit teaching of literacy and numeracy in Stages 5–6 includes: Leading secondary numeracy and Supporting the HSC minimum standard .

How does effective feedback support student learning?

Theme 3 – Effective feedback

Effective feedback provides students with relevant, explicit, ongoing, constructive and actionable information about their performance against learning outcomes from the syllabus.

Students and their teachers receive feedback on the HSC minimum standard testing through Schools Online and additionally, teachers can access feedback through the HSC App in Scout.

The HSC minimum standard Scout showcase (requires Adobe Connect) also supports teachers to interpret the feedback in Scout and use this information to work with students.

Teachers can view a School Discovery that demonstrates how teacher feedback supports the explicit teaching of writing skills at Elizabeth Macarthur High School (staff only).

School Discovery: Elizabeth Macarthur High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

At Elizabeth Macarthur High School support for students at risk of not achieving the HSC minimum standard starts early.

In Year 7, classroom teachers find evidence in work samples to support the student information from transition meetings and a range of assessments.

This data combined with observations of student literacy and numeracy behaviours based on the learning progressions, is used to develop a class scope and sequence.

All Year 7 and 8 classes have an extra lesson each week with one of their class teachers and a learning and support teacher the content of which is determined by the class scope and sequence.

These lessons use explicit teaching and commence with clear learning intentions.

The students then practice the skill working on small whiteboards to encourage experimentation and receive feedback from their teachers.

Students further practice and are assessed in this skill using a differentiated online program in Google Classroom.

The learning and support teacher updates the table of observable behaviours created for each student, which is discussed with the students after which they give a self-reflection of their progress.

Students are then encouraged to use and apply the skill in everyday classwork.

This intervention is sustainable, because as more teachers team-teach with the learning and support teacher, they are becoming familiar with the learning progressions and explicit literacy teaching strategies.

It also provides the school with the learning information to be able to have a conversation with parents.

We know your student really well.

[End of transcript]

How can teachers use data to understand and monitor student progress?

Theme 4 – Use of data to inform practice

Teachers use data to check and understand where their students are in their learning and to plan what to do next. Effective analysis of student data helps teachers identify areas where students’ learning needs may require additional attention and development.

Data available in Scout and Schools Online as well as school-based assessment and observation of student learning can be used to inform teaching practice that supports students’ literacy and numeracy development in preparation for the HSC minimum standard.

PLAN2 enables teachers to record observations of students’ literacy and numeracy progress using the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions. PLAN2 analysis supports schools to determine students’ current strengths and needs and determine next steps in literacy and numeracy learning.

Teachers can view School Discoveries that explore the effective use of data to inform teaching at Macarthur Girls High School (staff only) and Elizabeth Macarthur High School (staff only).

School Discovery: Macarthur Girls High School

Narrator:

NSW High Schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Macarthur Girls High School, has 5 interconnected drivers of continuous improvement in the teaching of literacy and numeracy.

Firstly, there has been a cultural shift to literacy and numeracy growth being everyone’s responsibility.

Each student has a ‘learning profile’ that guides conversations about how to grow their literacy and numeracy skills. It includes learning goals and assessment results and is prepared by a stage team.

Secondly, classroom teaching and learning programs are differentiated, regularly adjusted, and refer to strategies that are accessible on a school designed web app.

Thirdly, teachers are provided with time to plan for their teaching.

The next year’s timetable is finished by the end of Term 3 so teachers know who will be in their classes. The student learning profiles are also ready at this time. Teachers have time in faculties to talk about students and their learning and to adjust teaching and learning programs.

Fourthly, school structures support staff to know their students well.

Roll call is renamed ‘PRIDE time”. It gives teachers and students 30 minutes of dialogue about growth and development every day and student goals are constantly reviewed.

Parents are given a formal report and participate in a learning conversation about student progress.

Lastly, when it comes to professional learning, the school’s approach is depth not breadth.

The school professional learning plan is streamlined to focus on the concept of knowing your students and how to support their literacy and numeracy skills.

All 5 elements ensure Macarthur Girls High School continues to plan for growth through knowing their students well, providing staff with extensive support in knowing their students and how to teach literacy and numeracy.

[End of transcript]


School Discovery: Elizabeth Macarthur High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

At Elizabeth Macarthur High School support for students at risk of not achieving the HSC minimum standard starts early.

In Year 7, classroom teachers find evidence in work samples to support the student information from transition meetings and a range of assessments.

This data combined with observations of student literacy and numeracy behaviours based on the learning progressions, is used to develop a class scope and sequence.

All Year 7 and 8 classes have an extra lesson each week with one of their class teachers and a learning and support teacher the content of which is determined by the class scope and sequence.

These lessons use explicit teaching and commence with clear learning intentions.

The students then practice the skill working on small whiteboards to encourage experimentation and receive feedback from their teachers.

Students further practice and are assessed in this skill using a differentiated online program in Google Classroom.

The learning and support teacher updates the table of observable behaviours created for each student, which is discussed with the students after which they give a self-reflection of their progress.

Students are then encouraged to use and apply the skill in everyday classwork.

This intervention is sustainable, because as more teachers team-teach with the learning and support teacher, they are becoming familiar with the learning progressions and explicit literacy teaching strategies.

It also provides the school with the learning information to be able to have a conversation with parents.

We know your student really well.

[End of transcript]


Illustrations of practice on the HSC minimum standard resource website provide models of data-driven teaching practice in different subject areas and contexts to support students’ literacy and numeracy development for the HSC minimum standard.

How can assessment be used to know that learning is taking place and inform next steps in learning?

Theme 5 – Assessment

High quality student assessment helps us know that learning is taking place. Assessment is most effective when it is an integral part of teaching and learning programs.

Assessments such as short assessments can provide information that contributes to the early identification of students who may need support in achieving the HSC minimum standard. This will allow targeted teaching to be provided throughout Stages 4–5.

Ongoing assessment is important in determining student readiness to sit the HSC minimum standard tests. PLAN2 allows teachers to record observations of students’ literacy and numeracy learning to monitor progress using the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions.

The EAL/D Learning Progression (PDF 397 KB) supports teachers to determine the current strengths and needs of English language learners.

Teachers can view a School Discovery that explores the use of formative assessment strategies to support students’ achievement of the HSC minimum standard at Kurri Kurri High School (staff only).

School Discovery: Kurri Kurri High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Kurri Kurri High School determined that to improve their numeracy results, they needed to improve students’ comprehension of worded problems, that involved numeracy.

They combined strategies from both literacy and numeracy programs, to develop the ‘Think board’.

The Think board encourages students to consolidate an understanding of basic numeracy skills and comprehension of word-problems.

Teachers have used feedback from the ‘Best Start Year 7’ assessment, which is mapped to the national numeracy learning progression, to identify the type of questions students need support in solving.

This has enabled teachers to use the Think board, as a formative assessment strategy to identify the misconceptions students hold.

Teachers use discussion time to model a variety of strategies that could be used to solve word problems and address misconceptions held by students.

All Stage 4 students use Think boards as a ‘do now’ activity to start lessons in mathematics.

Teachers in all learning areas have introduced this model, as a way to improve numeracy in their subject.

They have noticed that by unpacking the numeracy demands using Think boards, students are gaining a deeper understanding of the concept in their learning area.

Kurri Kurri High School are now introducing Think boards to their partner primary schools, to assist with transitioning from Stage 3 to Stage 4.

By working with the local primary schools, they can ensure that students from K–12, have consistent language and practices when solving numeracy word problems.

[End of transcript]

How the right conditions for learning set students up for success.

Theme 6 – Classroom management

Classroom management is important for creating the conditions for learning. Effective classroom management minimises and addresses all levels of disengagement and disruptive behaviours.

Classroom management resources:

How to create a safe environment for students.

Theme 7 – Wellbeing

At school, the practices that support student wellbeing involve creating a safe environment; ensuring connectedness; engaging students in their learning; and promoting social and emotional skills.

Teachers can view School Discoveries showcasing good practice in supporting student wellbeing in the context of the HSC minimum standard.

School Discovery: St Marys Senior High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

St Marys Senior High School has 900 students in Years 11 and 12, and has a leading and learning team dedicated to the HSC minimum standard. This team consists of staff from each key learning area.

They use Google Classroom to support test administration, and communicate with students and staff about the HSC minimum standard.

As part of the team, an additional part-time Learning and Support Teacher facilitates the test administration, monitors student progress and works with teachers to develop literacy and numeracy resources targeted to student needs.

A shared Google Drive folder is used to communicate identified student literacy and numeracy needs with teachers, along with appropriate teaching activities to support their students.

Targeted activities are also available for students to access through Google Classroom and complete as they need.

Progress is logged into the shared Google Drive folder, so all class teachers can see which resource has been used, by which student. The teaching team use this feedback along with a range of data to help decide when a student is ready to sit the tests.

Students are informed of their test schedule through Google Classroom, ensuring an inclusive approach.

In this way, student well-being is considered as test administration and results are private and not obvious to other students.

This is a very personalised approach to the administration of the HSC minimum standard tests.

It also gives students ownership for their own learning and progress.

[End of transcript]


School Discovery: Riverside Girls High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

At Riverside Girls High School, conversations between a student and a teacher about learning are a way of managing student anxiety about the online tests.

Students are given the knowledge of how to grow their literacy and numeracy skills.

Year 7 and 8 classes are given time to reflect on their learning in a learning coach lesson.

The learning coach, introduces the growth mindset model, unpacks assessment criteria, help students to write learning goals, and upload evidence of improvement to student e-learning portfolios.

The pages in these e-learning portfolios are based on the 4 C’s. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

They include reflection statements about growth and where to next.

In Year 9, all students attend a showcase, ‘Maxi You’, where students are shown data that is collected as they progress through high school.

The aim is to normalise data as a snapshot of information and to discuss how it can be used to maximize individual potential.

Teachers then continue to use data to inform the next steps of learning with their classes, monitoring growth and rewarding progress.

Students have become used to conversations about improvement.

Celebrating small gains and monitoring growth. They have shown little anxiety in approaching the HSC minimum standard online tests.

[End of transcript]


School Discovery: Newtown High School of the Performing Arts

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Newtown High School of the Performing Arts has introduced personalised learning conversations in Stages 4 and 5 to prepare students to manage any anxiety about the HSC minimum standard tests.

These conversations build grit, persistence and goal orientation.

Teaching students to take responsibility for their own learning through the achievement of learning goals is a strategy used to achieve the school target of all students obtaining a Higher School Certificate.

The key support for students is through the school philosophy of improving through mistakes and it’s emphasis on student responsibility for improvement.

Every student in Years 9 to 12 is taught to ask key questions about their learning.

Staff are trained in conducting coaching conversations, how to write SMART goals and how to use the language of growth.

Each Year 9 and 10 student meets with the teacher-coach 8 times a year.

Just before report time, students bring evidence to the session to show their progress.

The HSC minimum standard tests are communicated to students as part of the goal-setting expectation.

The tests are according to the deputy principal a snapshot of where their literacy and numeracy skills are on the day and a really good way of checking that the students in Year 10 are on track to achieve their literacy and numeracy goals.

After this, students write a reflection with teachers and parents as the audience.

It is this non-faculty based report that is most valued by teachers, parents and students themselves.

Students feel they are known, valued and cared for and that the HSC minimum standard is simply part of a process and achievable.

[End of transcript]



Supporting teaching practice through professional collaboration and further learning.

Theme 8 – Collaboration

Professional collaboration allows best practice to be identified and shared across classrooms. Effective collaboration explicitly aims to improve teacher practices and student outcomes.

Schools where there is a shared responsibility for students’ literacy and numeracy development across the curriculum support their students to achieve the HSC minimum standard as part of everyday practice.

The Observations across learning areas feature in PLAN2 supports collaboration across faculties by displaying observations of students’ literacy and numeracy skills recorded in subject areas or groups other than a teacher’s own class.

Teachers can view School Discoveries that demonstrate collaborative approaches such as the use of teacher teams to support the HSC minimum standard at St Marys Senior High School (staff only) and Ingleburn High School (staff only). A collaborative approach across a community of 4 schools is showcased in the Hawkesbury schools (staff only).

School Discovery: St Marys Senior High School

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

St Marys Senior High School has 900 students in Years 11 and 12, and has a leading and learning team dedicated to the HSC minimum standard. This team consists of staff from each key learning area.

They use Google Classroom to support test administration, and communicate with students and staff about the HSC minimum standard.

As part of the team, an additional part-time Learning and Support Teacher facilitates the test administration, monitors student progress and works with teachers to develop literacy and numeracy resources targeted to student needs.

A shared Google Drive folder is used to communicate identified student literacy and numeracy needs with teachers, along with appropriate teaching activities to support their students.

Targeted activities are also available for students to access through Google Classroom and complete as they need.

Progress is logged into the shared Google Drive folder, so all class teachers can see which resource has been used, by which student. The teaching team use this feedback along with a range of data to help decide when a student is ready to sit the tests.

Students are informed of their test schedule through Google Classroom, ensuring an inclusive approach.

In this way, student well-being is considered as test administration and results are private and not obvious to other students.

This is a very personalised approach to the administration of the HSC minimum standard tests.

It also gives students ownership for their own learning and progress.

[End of transcript]


School Discovery: Ingleburn High School

Narrator:

NSW high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

Ingleburn High School has developed a whole school focus on professional learning for teachers working closely with the learning and support teacher.

Adjusting the curriculum has enabled more students to work with the learning and support teacher and introduced processes for feedback to KLA staff on students’ strengths and areas for growth.

They have introduced a third elective for Stage 5 mixing Year 9 and Year 10 students, in a high-interest elective of their choice.

All Year 10 students are withdrawn from this elective for 6 to 7 weeks to complete a skills development program called catch-up for learning.

This program is designed by the learning support team who have identified the skills to be taught in this withdrawal program.

Using evidence provided by class teachers and a range of data sources.

The catch-up lessons are delivered by the learning and support teacher who provides feedback of student progress to all teachers.

By involving all Year 10 students, there is no stigma attached to leaving a classroom.

The learning and support teacher delivers advice on adjusting assessments and is a teacher mentor or expert in the teaching of literacy and numeracy.

They model strategies through team teaching.

They demonstrate how to use both classroom observations and work samples to look for evidence of where-to-next in literacy and numeracy skill development.

Students HSC minimum standard test results provide further information for the school to plan quality professional learning in the teaching of literacy and numeracy.

This is planned 12 months in advance. The learning and support teacher is a key resource in supporting this whole school responsibility for student achievement.

[End of transcript]


School Discovery: Community of Schools

Narrator:

New South Wales high schools are using several tools and strategies to develop students’ literacy and numeracy skills. These will support students’ preparation for the HSC minimum standard online tests.

The Colo, Hawkesbury, Richmond, and Windsor high schools have a project coordinator to work across the 4 schools.

This role involves analysis of all HSC minimum standard data, coordination of the tests, development of a student support strategy, and communication with the community.

Before any testing starts, the project coordinator communicates at length with the students about strategies for success in particular about removing any blocks that may hinder their performance.

Data analysis has identified 2 blocks in literacy and numeracy.

The literacy block is often choosing a topic they know little about.

The numeracy block relates to the attitude of “I’m not good at maths”.

The project coordinator visits each school separately as an expert at removing the blocks.

Students complete a practice test and are rewarded by the project coordinator for persistence.

The project coordinator ensures the practice tests are a learning tool rather than a contributor to test fatigue.

In numeracy students complete a practice test in pairs with a doer and an observer, then they reverse roles.

Any difficult numeracy words are added to a glossary that is shared across the four schools.

Maths teachers teach the language of the glossary before the tests are administered.

With literacy, the project coordinator has a planning checklist which introduces the importance of putting ideas on paper and expanding these.

Students are shown how important it is to choose a topic that they can write about at length.

All staff are benefiting and learning from to remove the block strategy.

The glossary and planning checklists are being used across faculties and teachers are adjusting programs to support students to meet the standard.

The role of the project coordinator will become a part-time role as resources are developed.

Teachers are aware of the adjustments required in their teaching, and school coordinators have put in place sustainable processes to suit their individual schools.

This model is “Elegant in its simplicity” according to the principal of Colo high school.

[End of transcript]


The Teacher resources (staff only) webpage includes materials, such as, translated documents, to support collaboration and communication with families about the HSC minimum standard.

Statewide staffrooms in literacy, numeracy and EAL/D enable teachers to learn about and share practice on how they have supported students to achieve the HSC minimum standard.

The School Support Contacts (staff only) page allows teachers to search for a school to find contact information for non-school based staff. Additional support can also be found in the Literacy and numeracy support (staff only) section of the department's Service navigator.

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