Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Will Girls And Asians Dominate HSC Results This Year? Probably

The Higher School Certificate (or ‘HSC’ for all you hip jivin’ youngsters) marks the culmination of six years of secondary education for around 60,000 New South Wales students each year.
During the final exam/assessment period, students endure a stressful marathon of weeks honing essay paragraph structure, memorising historical dates, binge-reciting foreign syntax, quoting famous figures, scrawling formula procedures, perfecting performances and polishing up the finishing touches on woodworks/ metalworks/ artworks and food… works… until an exhausted meatpuppet of educated humanity is plopped out the other end as a cookie-cutter adult ready to mould themselves further in the tertiary academic world.

To ensure a fair marking process for the HSC, all students are assigned an ID number so that markers are unable to discern the identity of the student being marked. (Albeit, several subjects cannot avoid face-to-face judging, seeing as certain performance-based Drama, Music, Dance and Visual Art assessments rely upon an individual being marked in person, and a significant chunk of foreign language subjects require engaging in discussion with an external marker vis-a-vis.)

As a general overview, however, the anonymity afforded to HSC students provides an interesting overview of how different genders and ethnicities objectively perform in various subjects year after year. Pedantic comedians such as yours truly therefore have fair grounds to take these non-biased results and spin stereotypical commentary from them regarding which subjects will favour certain demographics.

In conclusion, here are my predictions as to who will top which subjects for the 2014 HSC based on previous years’ results… 

* All First In Course information sourced below is available on the NSW Board Of Education website and is published in newspapers every year
* All demographic data is sourced from the 2011 Australian Census and MySchool website
* Some subjects may have had joint ‘First In Course’ winners in a given year
* Some subjects may not have existed until more recent years, or may no longer exist
* If the highest achiever in a course failed to get a mark over 90, there was no ‘First In Course’ certificate awarded for that year.
* If in doubt over an individual’s heritage or gender, they were omitted from profiling.
 I quite literally Facebook/Google stalked every winner to ensure accurate bigotry


Ranking high schools according to the percentage of students who score in the highest band for an HSC course (Distinguished Achievers) is the method used to measure HSC success; however fluctuations between individual years can see a school shifting dramatically up or down the ranking.

Generally, though, selective government schools around the Sydney area are the elite performers and consistently clock up the best results, with private inner-city schools also performing solidly. Schools are assigned an Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) rating with a median score of 1000, based on the financial wellbeing of the families attending the school. An ICSEA rating of 500 would indicate the most impoverished schools in the nation, 1,300 would represent the most affluent.

- James Ruse Agricultural High School scores top of the pack in the HSC year after year, with a considerable margin before second place. The school has a 97% student population from a language background other than English. It’s… it’s really Asian is what I’m saying.
ICSEA rating: 1249

 - Baulkham Hills High School has ranked 2nd and 5th in the past two years respectively, and is another selective government school with a 94% non-English-heritage student population.
ICSEA rating: 1200

- Hornsby Girls High School has ranked 3rd and 6th in the past two years respectively, and is another selective government school with an 88% non-English-heritage student population.
ICSEA rating: 1229

- North Sydney Boys High has ranked 4th and 2nd in the past two years respectively, and is another selective government school with a 90% non-English-heritage student population.
ICSEA rating: 1216

 - North Sydney Girls High has ranked 5th and 3rd in the past two years respectively, and is another selective government school with a 90% non-English-heritage student population.
ICSEA rating: 1216

- Sydney Girls High School has ranked 6th and 4th in the past two years respectively, and is another selective government school with an 82% non-English-heritage student population.
ICSEA rating: 1196

- Sydney Boys High School has ranked 7th and 8th in the past two years respectively, and is another selective government school with a 90% non-English-heritage student population.
ICSEA rating: 1205

You get the gist.

There are around 800 secondary schools in NSW. In 2013, 47 out of the top 50 HSC results came from the Sydney area.
(See below.)

To put that into perspective, ~95% of the best high schools in all of NSW fit inside this red circle:


In Australia, it is evident that money gets you good marks in education. From the small pockets of dots seen around affluent inner city suburbs, you can expect private schools full of Jews and Catholics. The more widely spread dots generally represent selective public schools which tend to be dominated by well-off Asian and Indian students.
-          22 of the top 50 high schools have a high Chinese population.
-          14 of the top 50 high schools have a high South African (Jewish) population.
-          6 of the top 50 high schools have a high Indian population.

 Indigenous students in NSW and Australiawide are generally outliers of low academic performance, low attendance rates and high dropout rates for high school. A quick overview of ICSEA scores and Aboriginal student enrolment at the top-performing high schools in NSW reflects this issue rather evidently, but is an entirely different thread of discussion altogether.
*Based off combining the number of students studying English Advanced, English Standard or English As A Second Language, seeing as English is the only mandatory subject for all students across the board.

2003 – 60,000
2004 – 60,000
2005 – 60,000
2006 – 60,000
2007 – 61,000
2008 – 62,000
2009 – 63, 000
2010 – 64,000
2011 – 64,000
2012 – 62, 000
2013 – 61, 000

 Aboriginal Studies
A White girl from Cheltenham Girls High School.
For 3 out of the past 4 years, a Cheltenham Girls High School student has topped Aboriginal Studies for the HSC. Their school has an ICSEA value of 1146 and a 0% Aboriginal population.

A Chinese girl attending a Sydney Institute campus.
From 2003-2012, the Sydney Institute and its northern campuses (Petersham, Northern Beaches and Hornsby) produced 11 First In Course wins for Accounting.

[Alas, it appears Accounting is no longer included in the HSC Syllabus. This was a shoe-in.]

A Chinese girl from James Ruse Agricultural High School.
From 2001-2013, 8 students who received First In Course for Agriculture have come from James Ruse Agricultural High School and 7 over that time were Chinese girls.

Arabic Continuers and Arabic Extension
The same Lebanese girl for both subjects.
From 2001-2013, there have been 10 occasions where the same student topped both Arabic Continuers and Arabic Extension.

Genderwise, Biology is anyone’s for the taking. That said, Abbotsleigh has outdone James Ruse with winners here 4:3 so I’ll put my money on them taking back the crown this year with a White girl posing behind a microscope for her photo in the newspaper.

A Chinese girl from James Ruse or Baulko.
From 2001-2013, Baulkham Hills has produced 3 Chemistry winners and James Ruse has produced 4 Chemistry winners. 8 Chinese girls notched up a Chemistry win over that time.


Chinese Background Speakers, Chinese Continuers and Chinese Extension
A Chinese student from a single-sex Sydney school.
From 2001-2013, there have been 14 First In Course wins clocked up by Chinese students for Background Speakers, 12 for Continuers and 10 for Extension.

Some may scoff that this is as an obvious outcome, but note that one HSC student in 2012 topped French Extension, German Extension AND Italian Continuers and Italian Extension.

Furthermore, Chinese students have also topped the following language courses:
- English As A Second Language:       11 times
- English Advanced:                            Twice
- English Extension 1:                         6 times in the last 9 years
- English Extension 2:                         Twice

- Classical Greek Continuers:             5 times
- Classical Greek Extension:               3 times
- Dutch Continuers:                            Once
- French Beginners:                            Once
- French Continuers:                           3 times
- French Extension:                             Twice
- German Beginners:                          Once
- German Extension:                           Once
- Italian Beginners:                             Twice
- Latin Continuers:                              5 times
- Latin Extension:                                4 times
- Spanish Beginners:                           4 times

Considering that European languages use the same alphabet as English, one can generally infer that somebody of Asian background would have more difficulty than an Anglo student would in studying those languages. Also, there would be plenty of English As A Second Language students who are not Chinese (ie. from other areas of Asia, Europe or the Middle East) so the dominance of Chinese students in the HSC is indeed notable when considering the ratio of students in Australia, as outlined below:

873,275 Australians identified as speaking a Chinese language in the 2011 Australian Census, or 3.9% of the population.
Adding together the remaining Asian, Middle Eastern and European languages spoken in Australia, there were 2,107,805 other individuals from a non-English-speaking background, or 9.4% of the population. That would leave 19,480,480 native English speakers.

AUSTRALIA               22,340,000

ASIAN                         1,304,518
*Chinese                     371,357
Vietnamese                  278,236
*Cantonese                 244,553
*Mandarin                  220,601
Tagalog                       39,643
Korean                        39,529
Indonesian                   38,724
*Other Chinese           36,764
Japanese                     35,111

EUROPEAN               1,264,478
Italian                          316,890
Greek                          252,220
Serbian                        95,365
French                         93,593
Spanish                        78,878
German                       76,443
Macedonian                67,836
Croatian                      63,611
Polish                          53,387
Maltese                        41,393
Dutch                          40,188
Russian                        36,501
Hungarian                   24,485
Portuguese                  23,688

Arabic                         243,662
Turkish                        50,693
Persian                        25,238

SOUTH ASIAN           92,491
Hindi                           47,817
Tamil                           24,074
Sinhalese                     20,600

Assuming <4% of HSC students are Chinese, this demographic forms a clear outlier in academic performance every year. One would expect 2-3 times as many non-Chinese foreign students to be topping ESL, but this is simply not the case.
White Australian students outnumber Chinese students a whopping 22 times, yet Chinese students repeatedly dominate several HSC subjects over this enormous disparity.

The stereotype that Asians study a lot is thus completely verified by over a decade of objectively marked data. That’s… that’s all I really wanted to get at in this exercise.
The rest of this is just complete filler so I don’t appear to be a total racist.
I can be totally sexist, too.


Never, ever ever, a boy or an ethnic.
White girls from performing arts schools and college campuses have won this subject 13 years in a row. 95% of Dance students are female. Everyone knows Asians are unco. You do not stand a chance. All hail J’amie.


A White girl from the Northern Beaches named Amelia.
The last 12 winners in a row for Drama have been White girls.
3 of them have been named Amelia.
Like, really now, what are the fucking chances of that.


A Chinese student from a single-sex Sydney school.
Over the last 5 years, 4 Chinese students from a single-sex Sydney school took First In Course for Economics. Despite a 60/40 gender split, boys and girls top Economics evenly so a fair playing field genderwise.

Never, ever ever, a girl.
Year after year after year, over 96.5% of Engineering students are boys. It may be a Chinese boy from a Sydney boys school who tops this course. It may be a White boy from a country town who tops this course. It may be a Lebanese boy studying distance who tops this course.

English (Advanced)
With over half of all HSC students studying Advanced each year, First In Course for this subject jumps between boys and girls of all backgrounds, though dominantly from around the Sydney area.
My money leans slightly towards a girl, and I’ll have a random 1-in-a-thousand crack at Pymble pulling a win.


English (Standard)
A White girl from a single-sex school.
Inarguably the most studied course for the HSC, White girls have been fairly dominant in Standard English over the past decade, so despite the 30,000+ variables involved, this one is a pretty solid bet.


English Extension 1
A Chinese girl from a North Shore school.
With 5 wins in the past 8 years, Chinese girls are slogging this course a solid new one.


English Extension 2
Jumping about First In Course laureates year after year from city to country, boy to girl, White to Asian, this subject based on a major work submission is more subjectively marked by judges and thus open to fluctuating demographic strengths.
I’ll hazard a 50/50 on a White girl from Moriah or a Chinese boy from Barker.


Food Studies
Never, ever ever, a boy.
Despite ¼th -1/3rd of Food Studies students being boys, girls have won this subject every single year since 2001.
Say what you will about Feminism, but I think over a decade of data covering tens of thousands of students displays a little scientific cred in gender stereotyping here.


French Beginners, French Continuers and French Extension
Second language studies open up the chance of a First In Course to everyone on a fairly even playing field, so no surprises that a variety of ethnicities show up over the years.
That said, girls have the edge on Continuers and French Extension so I’ll guess at a White Pymble girl win for those two, and for Beginners, a random ethnic boy from West Sydney for good measure.

Another subject with no set demographic displaying dominance in the field.
Abbotsleigh has put its finger in the pie more than once but I’m gunning for a Hornsby Girls or Masada foot in the door this year.

German Beginners, German Continuers and German Extension
Like French, girls have the slight edge on Continuer and Extension, but unlike French, the surnames here all sound like names you’d hear on a Winter Olympics podium. I say Eastern European boy for Beginners and Eastern European girl for the other two.

Ancient History, Modern History and History Extension
Ancient History - A White boy from a private Catholic school around Sydney. (Although those White girls from a private Catholic school around Sydney will sure give them a run for their money.)

Modern History – 50/50 between a White girl from the North Shore or a Chinese girl from a Girls’ School.

History Extension – With only 2 boys topping this course over 13 years, a White girl from a random rural school you’ve never heard of should take Extension.


Italian Beginners, Continuers and Extension
Going against the usual language trend, boys dominate Continuers and Extension.

Italian Beginners – a White girl from Santa Sabina College.

Italian Continuers – a White boy from Sydney Grammar School. 

Italian Extension – the same boy who won Continuers.

 Japanese Beginners
A Vietnamese or South Korean girl at a Western Sydney school
Japanese Continuers is hands-down the domain of natives, but Beginners has had numerous other South East Asian surnames in the mix.


Latin Continuers and Latin Extension
A Chinese boy from Sydney Grammar School
Sydney Grammar School has notched up 8 First In Course awards for Latin over the years, though Chinese girls from Sydney Girls’ School and White boys from SCEGS and Canberra are not to be scoffed at.

 Legal Studies
A surprising blend of genders and regional locations for Legal Studies winners each year.
Quite literally expecting a random name from a school that hasn’t won this before.

Mathematics (General)
The second-most studied HSC subject with objective right-or-wrong answers and the most even gender split of all subjects at an almost perfect 50/5 0ratio every year, resulting in random First In Course wins from absolutely all over the place.
I’ll guesstimate that General Maths is up for grabs by a random girl from an ethnic minority group attending a school you’ve never heard of before.

Mathematics, Mathematics Extension 1 and Mathematics Extension 2
Chinese students with an Anglo first name and ridiculously Asian surname.
There’s a bit of a cliché that goes ‘Asians are good at math’. I have already discussed earlier about how a tiny minority of students repeatedly dominate academic results.

Mathematics - one for the Asians, hands down. Chinese students have attained First In Course for Maths 11 times from 2001-2013. James Ruse boy should take this one.

 Mathematics Extension 1 – 15 First In Course wins for Chinese students since 2001 (more than one student may win First In Course in a given year, especially in a subject such as Mathematics where answers are objectively right or wrong). Let’s say a James Ruse girl win here.

Mathematics Extension 2 – 7 First In Course wins for Chinese students since 2001, I’m gonna guess a Sydney Grammar win for this year.


Modern Greek Beginners, Greek Continuers and Greek Extension
Every single surname will contain either Z, V, K or OU and end in S, I guarantee it.


Music 1, Music 2 and Music Extension
An interesting difference between the 1 and 2 demographics here.

Music 1 – A White boy from a random bogan school

Music 2 – A Chinese girl from Sydney

Music Extension – The same girl who won Music 2.


Persian Background Speakers
A terrorist.
I mean, really now. Will you look at these surnames?
Valizadeh Baghjeghaz.

Arjomand Bigdeli
These jumbled letters are clearly code for something . We need to get ASIO on this asap.

Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
Surprisingly, a White girl from a rural school.
With 12/13 wins since 2001, this is another subject dominated by White girls, despite the fact that almost twice as many boys take this subject every year as girls. *Interesting*
I guess hiding your boner in class all the time when presented with anatomical diagrams and sex ed videos proves too distracting.

A Chinese boy from James Ruse.
Although the ladies poke their heads in here every now and again, Chinese boys have this one under wraps and James Ruse is due to reclaim their sporadically-won title.

Society and Culture
An Eastern-European girl.
Seem a bit left-of-field? I thought so, too. But damned if it won’t be a girl with a Croatian/Serbian/Czech/Russian sounding surname.

Software Design & Development
A White boy from Moriah College.
One girl has managed a First In Course for Software Design & Development since 2001, no mean feat given the 93-94% prevalence of boys in the subject.

Studies of Religion 1
A White boy from a private Catholic school with ‘St’ in its name.
Because Catholicism covers all religions, really.

Studies of Religion 2
A White girl from a private Catholic school with ‘Lady’ in its name.
I’m guessing this course is more Pope Francis material.


Textiles and Design
Never, ever ever, a boy.
With a huge gender disparity to the tune of 98.5%, it is no surprise that 15 out of 15 First In Course awards since 2001 have been girls. (Construction has an EVEN HIGHER rate of gender disparity!) Broughton Anglican College had a nice run a few years’ back for Textiles and Design triumphs, but I’m gearing towards a White girl from Sydney Girls School here.

Visual Arts
A White girl from a Sydney girls’ school.
Visual Arts has seen 12 First In Place wins for girls over the past 13 years, and 6 out of the previous 7 wins came from a Sydney girls' school.

Well, that was a productive use of my time.

Best of luck to our future shelf-stackers, burger-flippers and coffee servants!
And remember, the HSC is really, really important and you will totally still be thinking and caring about it 18 months from now.



Steezus Christ said...

I'm sure the HSC achievers you've posted up appreciate their photos being used as pseudo-intellectual commentary on academic achievement and ethnicity.

It's been a few years out since my own HSC, but I was one of the kids who also did get their picture taken, and I'd be (alongside many others) spewing that you've gone and titled them as 'Chinese girl', 'White boy' etc.

I'll be reporting this to the Board of Studies to follow up on your lengthy screeds.

Aaron Parker said...

Wow you must be miserable as ****!

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BlueIris said...

You got the majority of it wrong mate, but I like this kind of betting!