YEAR nine students do not take NAPLAN tests seriously enough, the state government says amid stagnating results among the cohort.
It has started a special principal advisory committee to look into new ways to motivate year nines who sit the national, standardised test, including a "proficiency certificate" guiding their selection of VCE subjects.
The certificates could help them plan careers and seek part-time work.
Investigating new ways to motivate year nines is welcome, La Trobe University Bendigo education expert Debra Edwards said.
"Year nine is often considered a problematic year. Over the last decade student engagement has been an area we've looked at and a number schools have developed different approaches for," she said.
"They are things like having specific programs or campuses for year nines and specialised school camps."
Students' NAPLAN results tended to be best in year three, before they began dropping away from year five onward, Crusoe College principal Brad Madden said.
Children in year nine have changing brains and are often at an age when they push back against authority figures, Mr Madden said.
"Trying hard at school is fairly low down on their list of priorities," he said.
Despite that, NAPLAN and other standardised tests are important, Mr Madden said.
"It doesn't matter where you go, somewhere along the way when you leave school you will hit an exam and things like literacy and numeracy tests for various roles you might want to take," he said.
"So I think there is still value in kids being able to perform in those standardised test environments."
Views about the best way forward will likely be mixed, state education minister James Merlino said.
"But we want to hear from principals, teachers, parents and students about how we can make NAPLAN relevant and ensure Year 9 students are engaged and giving it their best shot," he said.
The government has also asked for an upcoming NAPLAN review to examine whether the year levels that currently sit the test should change.
The change could include moving NAPLAN tests from Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to Years 4, 6, 8 and 10.
This would give secondary schools more timely information about achievement levels of students as they transition from primary school and help them use results as they considered senior secondary choices, Mr Merlino said.
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