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Grade level for Atar

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#1 My4beautifulboys

Posted 13 November 2019 - 12:57 PM

My Ds will be going into Grade 10 next year. Based on his current grades he has been streamed into pathway 2. We received some information form the school regarding the different levels of Atar based courses. In maths I think it was specialist, method and essential. He is sitting at about 50% achievement level, and above 50% in English. His math teacher thinks that Atar would be above his achievement level and that he’d struggle with it. She said it depends on what he wants to do, for a career. But Ds doesn’t exactly know year, he is only 14. Dis is happy to go into the non Atar group. But what I was wondering if he was borderline between Atar or non Atar. Would it be better to go into year 10, and give the Atar level a try or not? Would be interested to hear your thoughts?

#2 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 13 November 2019 - 01:16 PM

Is he working at at capacity?

At the end of yr 9, my DD was just cruising along.  She was streamed in what sounds a similar way to your DS, which kind of shocked her, and throughout year 10 she has really changed her work ethic and attitude.

She has now received mid year and end of year academic awards (must get more than 50%  A's, the rest B's, no C's or lower)  and is considering medicine.  

If he has room to grow and improve his results, then I wouldn't choose subjects or a pathway that might limit his options.  Having said that, in my experience, teachers often know the kids abilities better than us parents, so also be guided by them.

He can always change back to Pathway 2 at the end of year 10?

#3 BusbyWilkes

Posted 13 November 2019 - 02:30 PM

If he's working really hard and trying his best, then the ATAR pathway may be very difficult for him. As PP said, if he could improve his work ethic (and wants to!) then I would let the school know that you want him placed in ATAR streamed classes for year 10, but are open to this changing in year 11. If you do want this for your son (and he wants it too) then you may need to be assertive with school, and provide them with reasons why he could do better - increased effort, possible tutoring to assist, family committed to supporting him etc.

There are still lots of pathways (including uni) open to him via general subjects, just in a more roundabout way.

It's easier to work hard when there is something to work towards too. We looked online and got copies of course info from local unis and TAFE to look through with our child. Also did some online job selection quizzes (he answers questions and it offers potential jobs that suit his interests). You're not necessarily going to plan a future career off it, but it opens their thoughts to jobs they may not have considered.

#4 JRA

Posted 13 November 2019 - 02:50 PM

I am sorry the term pathway 2 is completely new to me.

But how a child goes in early secondary can be misleading when it comes to the final years.  This has been the case forever. I finished secondary in 82. most of the boys who did straight science with me and have gone on to be successful engineers have VERY average year 7-10.

DS is just finishing y11 now. In y7-9 his marks were ok, just. Year 8 semester 1 he got C+ for maths, and was in the middle of the road maths group. He had missed a lot of school in Y7, but even prior to that he was still in middle maths group.  

In Y11 he has been getting A+ and A for Maths Methods and Specialist Maths (the two top maths in Vi).  

So kids can get pigeon holed, they can also just be not getting the work ethic early on in school, and people may be reading too much in to where kids are sitting at that point.

BUT they also may be accurate, it may be too much for him.

BusbyWilkes made some very good suggestions

#5 LiveLife

Posted 13 November 2019 - 02:56 PM

So in year 9 maths he got 50% but you didn’t say in which course? Our school has four different maths courses in yr 9. The top level and 50% would be heading to atar but likely only maths apps ATAR. any other yr 9 maths course getting 50% would mean non atar. In my experience, maths marks tend to nose dive in year 10 as the pace picks up a lot. So you may well find the decision becomes a lot more obvious in yr 10.

#6 My4beautifulboys

Posted 13 November 2019 - 03:22 PM

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. This is all new to me, and I want to help make the best choice for him, coming in to the more important years of school. I don’t what to expect from him a level he can’t achieve, but at the same time it’s best to get as high as he is capable of.
He is currently in the top maths class. So from what I understand if he was going to go into Atar math class in year 10. Based on his results of just scraping through with 50%, he would be in the lower essential maths Atar.
But his teacher did say to me that she thinks it would be too difficult for him. So like you said she would know his level better than anyone.
Also said you’d have to spend hundreds of dollars on text books, calculator for Atar level, and no point if he’s not capable of it?!

#7 JRA

Posted 13 November 2019 - 04:51 PM


So from what I understand if he was going to go into Atar math class in year 10.

Do you mean to do a Year 11 maths subject in year 10?

#8 Mumsyto2

Posted 13 November 2019 - 04:59 PM

View PostMy4beautifulboys, on 13 November 2019 - 03:22 PM, said:

Also said you’d have to spend hundreds of dollars on text books, calculator for Atar level, and no point if he’s not capable of it?!

I don’t understand. What state are you in and why does the child need a specialised calculator or hundreds of dollars of textbooks? Mine did the HSC, advanced maths  (prerequisite for uni engineering etc) and just used the standard scientific calculator they got in Yr7 that was handed out to all the kids for which a replacement costs approx $25/30 at Officeworks. I was paranoid the battery would go do made them borrow a siblings as a spare in trial and HSC but it made it through and is still being used at uni.

Also, they just used the textbook they were given at school. The school provided the textbooks and we paid a bond of $100 which we got back upon them being returned in okay condition. There was only ever 1 textbook each year for maths and the HSC one didn’t look like anything that cost hundreds of dollars. I did get a book of past papers or questions or similar which they begrudgingly looked at but never went any further but that only cost around $30. So I’m confused as to what the teacher is talking about.

#9 Mumsyto2

Posted 13 November 2019 - 05:08 PM

I also don’t understand about being in the top class and not being able to do maths that would qualify for an ATAR? Ours were streamed from Yr9 onwards and end of Yr10 allocated to which HSC maths group if they were continuing maths. All kids in top maths class from Yr9/10 did advanced maths in 11/12 as they either needed it as a uni prerequisite or to try and boost their ATAR for medicine or the pre-medicine course that is around now as direct entry is limited so it just acts as a proxy. The middle classes all did the standard HSC maths which was ATAR eligible and it was only the very bottom class in Yr9/10 that had kids who were not going to do HSC maths at all or one that I think qualified for ATAR but super simple, scaled low and worthless as prerequisite to any uni course requiring maths.

How many classes in your child’s year?

#10 onetrick

Posted 13 November 2019 - 05:22 PM

I am so confused why a year 10 needs to choose ATAR or not already?? Is this a state thing? I would never recommend against an ATAR for my students that early (as a pathways advisor in Victoria), but I know other states are different.
Maybe if you tell us your state, someone might have some more specific advice to help?

#11 JRA

Posted 13 November 2019 - 05:25 PM


I also don’t understand about being in the top class and not being able to do maths that would qualify for an ATAR? Ours were streamed from Yr9 onwards and end of Yr10 allocated to which HSC maths group if they were continuing maths. All kids in top maths class from Yr9/10 did advanced maths in 11/12

Exactly. All of our advanced in 9 did the 1/2 (ie Yr 11) maths in Yr 10.   That is why I wonder if that is what the OP is talking about

Edited by JRA, 13 November 2019 - 05:26 PM.

#12 rileys-mum

Posted 13 November 2019 - 05:47 PM

OP - you need to start the discussions re careers and post high school even if it is to narrow down the industry. Talk about what sorts of jobs / industries interest him. This is not to make him decide his future now but to help navigate solutions. If he is interested in Engineering then yes he will need to improve his maths to hit the mark. If communications/ marketing / graphic design work is more his thing then a non atar maths will not be a deal breaker. If it is a trade then atar can be dropped all together. This is not to apply pressure but to simply look at what is needed to achieve an end outcome.

#13 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 13 November 2019 - 05:53 PM

View PostMumsyto2, on 13 November 2019 - 04:59 PM, said:

I don’t understand. What state are you in and why does the child need a specialised calculator or hundreds of dollars of textbooks? Mine did the HSC, advanced maths  (prerequisite for uni engineering etc) and just used the standard scientific calculator they got in Yr7 that was handed out to all the kids for which a replacement costs approx $25/30 at Officeworks. I was paranoid the battery would go do made them borrow a siblings as a spare in trial and HSC but it made it through and is still being used at uni.
DS is doing year 10 Maths Methods next year. He needs a graphic calculator that costs $250. The text is $80, but I'll get one 2nd hand. I imagine the OPs son needs the same calculator.

#14 My4beautifulboys

Posted 13 November 2019 - 05:58 PM

We are in W.a. Sorry if I haven’t explained it right. Ds is currently in yr 9, going into year 10 next year. He is currently in the higher maths and English class, but is struggling to achieve 50% in his marks. We have been told that next year they will be streamed into heading towards Atar or non Atar classes. Atar maths consist of three levels- specialist, modern or essentials. Then the non Atar general course.
He is definitely keen on the graphic design/drafting career at this stage.

#15 littlepickle

Posted 13 November 2019 - 06:01 PM

We are in WA and my youngest will be moving into year 10 next year. There is no requirement to decide ATAR subjects until mid next year when they will look at exam results and assist with guiding your child on the right path. At our high school you can only move into ATAR physics if you have an 80% average in that component of year 10 science.
I have one finishing year 11 - she is completing Applicable maths (lowest ATAR maths) and requires the Casio Classpad at $260.
Strange that a school would be streamlining in year 9 for ATAR subjects commencing in year 11.

#16 My4beautifulboys

Posted 13 November 2019 - 06:16 PM

That does seem very confusing, as from what I’ve been told is completely different. They are streaming classes then into 10.1 and 10.2 classes. Which Ds is currently in 9.1, which is the higher class. But now they’ve suggested he takes the 10.2 classes for year 10. Which will be heading down the non Atar path. General maths and English.

#17 Julie3Girls

Posted 13 November 2019 - 06:21 PM

Amazing the difference in the states.
My Dd just finished her hsc, did advanced maths with a $20 calculator bought through the school. Textbook was free, on loan from the school.
She was actually doing extension math in yr 11 (highest yr 11 level) and still didn’t need anything more.n

Maths is definitely streamed in yr9 and 10, with the kids in the advanced maths being the ones you will go onto the advanced hsc maths.
I’m actually finding that even in yr7, the maths is getting streamed, with my daughter in the extension class doing a higher level of maths. Great for her, as she needs the extension to keep her interest.  But I do wonder how hard does that make it for the kids in the unstreamed classes to move up.

But even the two levels of general maths both count to atar here.

Edited by Julie3Girls, 13 November 2019 - 06:22 PM.

#18 JRA

Posted 13 November 2019 - 06:36 PM

Different schools have different recommendations on calculators. I believe here in Vic what has allowed has changed, but I can't remember what the change was, it was significant I believe,  a friend of DS's school has jumped on that.

DS's class school use currently  the Texas TI-NSpire CX II CAS touchpad colour which is $200+ or so, which DS got in y9.

With calculators being able to store so much in memory it can be quite significant, and that is why now they have the technology free exam and exam with technology, I believe.

ETA: Seeing the help that the current calculators help with graphing etc now compared to back in the old days is incredible

Edited by JRA, 13 November 2019 - 06:38 PM.

#19 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 13 November 2019 - 06:38 PM

Can’t he still do the ATAR and just get an average result? Nothing wrong with 50%. That’s still knowledge. And he may very well pull his finger out next year and beyond. I’d never judge a student by their year 9 or 10 results, kids are little sh*ts at that age, but many get over it and grow up through the senior years.  That’s why the posh schools send their year 9s away for months.

Are they trying to save their overall school results by pushing the “bad” kids out of the ATAR? Or is this a common thing in WA?

#20 jayskette

Posted 13 November 2019 - 06:39 PM

ATAR or uni, neither are the only option, and neither are necessarily the best option. to be able to cope with an academically minded workload just scraping 50% is nowhere near enough. 75? maybe. I went to an academically selective school, VET pathway was something never offered or considered by the entire community. I did ok in uni, mainly Credits. it's after 1 fail that I decided to pursue my other passion by entering a cert 3 in Tafe. the teaching was world class and I received the benefits of both university and vocational education. I did cert 4 and eventually started a masters on the same topic and found that my tafe education put me ahead of every class.

#21 MayaTheGrinch

Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:13 PM

Why is he being forced to make this decision now? Our local highschool (also WA) gives until halfway through yr10 for a decision to be made regarding ATAR or not. Because they know full well yes 9-10 can be rocky and kids can be, well, less then enthused until the crunch point.

The VET pathway can leading into Uni if that’s what he really wants. It might be a bit longer but if he does the right course he can even get credits towards a uni level degree (a diploma is often worth 24-36 points towards a bachelor degree which averages around 92-108 credits for graduating). The uni I work at we had kids who did cert 3-4 during yrs 11/12 go on to do a diploma and then fill bachelor degree. And the best thing was the diploma allowed them to get work in their area of interest and get paid while they worked on their bachelor).

#22 onetrick

Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:35 PM

I think from the sounds of it, you need to have a chat with DS and whether he is working to his full potential (going by the fact he is in top and not doing well, I'd say maybe not?), nd explain that to keep options open then the ATAR stream would be useful. If he doesnt cope next year then I assume he could go down? But not go up if he chooses the non ATAR?
I think Maths would be important given his interests if he is capable.

#23 LiveLife

Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:39 PM

WA here.

$250 class pad calculator needed in year 10 advanced maths and absolutely essential for maths specialist and methods ATAR courses along with $200 + in books

Maths is streamed in year 9 and if you don’t get in course 1 it’s almost impossible to do ATAR maths (even apps the lowest level). But 50% of the year were in course 1. You need to be in course 1.1 in year 9 and 10 to do methods and specialist in ATAR and getting 60%+ . For specialist even higher.

Are you willing to name your school or at least give me a vague idea of academic level of your school and I can vary advice accordingly. Ie the above isn’t so true for Hale school or Perth Modern where many start ATAR methods in yr 10.

#24 My4beautifulboys

Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:41 PM

Thanks, it’s really interesting to read your thoughts and suggestions. His school have sent a letter home explaining that he is best suited to 10.2, which they’ve said will most likely not lead to Atar courses in years 11/12. As once you’ve started year 10 in the 10.2 course it’s difficult to go up to 10.1 (general)as you get too far behind.
I guess at the end of the day uni isn’t the be all and end all. There are still plenty of other avenues leading into courses and perhaps uni in the end, for further studies.
It just seems a bit disappointing that they’re putting him down before even giving him until at least mid year 10, to decide. They want me to sign saying I agree with what level class they’ve chosen for him next year?

#25 born.a.girl

Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:52 PM

Would you consider tutuoring in order to keep his options open in the 10.1 class?

If he's unsure what he wants to do, it would be unfortunate  to completely rule out all of the courses which just require a low score in any maths, and there are many of them.

So many of the courses our daughter looked at just said '20 in any maths' which is pretty low, and sounds like they just want them to be exposed to the concepts.

If he finds it all too much at the end of year ten, he doesn't have to continue.

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