Schools tend to focus heavily on end of Year 12 exams (e.g. HSCs and the ATAR in Australia) that will enable students to progress to university. However, most students do NOT go on to university and of those who do many do not rely on an ATAR to get their place. It is time that schools focussed on the success of all their students, not just the more academically inclined.
42% of people in Australia who left school in 2018 went on to higher education in 2019 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019, Table 17), using one of the many entry schemes that exist (only some of which rely on your ATAR ranking). My own university offers a range of entry schemes, including:
- Pre-ATAR schemes
- The School Recommendation Scheme
- Year 12 Subject Spotlight Early Offer Program
- Indigenous Early Entry Scheme (for Law)
- Refuguee Early Entry Scheme (for Law)
- ATAR equivalence schemes
- International Baccalaureate
- The Special Tertiary Admissions Test
- Credit transfer (e.g. TAFE Guaranteed Entry)
- ATAR 'enhancement' schemes (which increase your ATAR ranking)
- Year 12 Adjustment Scheme
- Educational Access Scheme
- Elite Athlete Scheme
- Regional and Rural Adjustment Scheme
- Special Circumstances Admission Scheme
- Back-up degree scheme
- Non-ATAR schemes
- Fast-track Open Foundation
- Open Foundation
- Yapug (for Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islanders)
- Portfolio entry (though this is not advertised on the website)
So, of those who went to university, a proportion did NOT rely on an ATAR based entry route or relied upon their ATAR ranking being increased based on 'equity' or other sorts of adjustments such as being an elite athlete. Thus, the majority of school leavers, well over 60%, are dependent upon non-ATAR based pathways on leaving school.
We know that focussing on the ATAR distorts education (Shergold et al., 2020). It disadvantages the majority of students who follow non-ATAR based pathways on leaving school. So why do schools focus so heavily on students' ATAR rankings?
It is time that we recognised, valued and actively promoted pathways that meet the needs of the majority of students. That is the focus of my current research, which comes under the banner of Additional Routes To Success (ARTS) - we need more ARTS in education (sorry I couldn't resist).
I would love to hear your views and experiences of non-ATAR routes to success - leave a comment or email me (you can find me email address on my profile page)