A Year 9 student’s NAPLAN score is a strong predictor of the likeliness of attending University, more so than the student’s socio-economic status, University of Melbourne research has found.

More than 75% of students with high Year 9 NAPLAN scores (in the top 20%) received an ATAR score of over 70, which gives access to a wider range of University courses.

Professor Justman said that a student’s socio-economic background amplifies these effects and can make it difficult for students from more disadvantaged backgrounds to overcome educational setbacks.

“Academically weak students, with year 9 results in the bottom 25% of their cohort, who also come from a low socio-economic background, have less than a 5% chance of achieving an ATAR of 50 or above, while students with similar year 9 results from a strong socio-economic background have more than a 25% chance,” Professor Justman said.

“Year 9 NAPLAN scores provide valuable information for teachers, parents and students for planning education and career paths,” he said.

“Based on NAPLAN results, teachers, parents and the students themselves can recognise the level of effort that will be needed for them to achieve access to different university programs and pursue a chosen career path.”

The Melbourne Institute study used data from over 65,000 year 9 students in Victoria in 2008, then cross-referenced these results with the ATAR scores of the same student cohort. University admission is benchmarked by ATAR scores.

The research also shows that whole school success rates measured by high ATAR results are determined to a very large degree by students’ year 9 NAPLAN scores.

Student scores and basic demographic characteristics account significantly (over 80%) for the differences in whole school NAPLAN statistics.