Na­tional test to as­sess phon­ics and nu­mer­acy stan­dard

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - ASH­LEY ARGOON ED­U­CA­TION RE­PORTER ash­ @ashar­goon

GRADE 1 kids will un­dergo a “check” of their lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy skills un­der a new na­tional as­sess­ment.

The check would be rolled out for grade 1 chil­dren na­tion­wide to iden­tify those who are behind, and fo­cus on phonic knowl­edge and num­ber sense and po­si­tion.

While the check hasn’t yet been de­vel­oped, it would be part of the Na­tional As­sess­ment Program as early as 2019.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham said Aus­tralian re­sults had stag­nated, and even de­clined, de­spite the “ex­cel­lent ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem”.

“Po­lit­i­cal grand­stand­ing and special in­ter­est groups aside, this is about help­ing Aus­tralian stu­dents get the sup­port they need to suc­ceed at school and into the fu­ture,” he said.

The min­is­ter was ad­vised by a six-per­son ex­pert panel, in­clud­ing re­search fel­lows, pro­fes­sors and teach­ers — along with Vic­to­ria’s own Steven Capp, prin­ci­pal of Bentleigh West Pri­mary School.

They found the need for a “light touch” check be­cause there was no sys­tem­atic early as­sess­ment of es­sen­tial skills.

Un­der the panel’s rec­om­men­da­tion, a new tool would be de­vel­oped for the nu­mer­acy check, while a UK gov­ern­ment phon­ics check would be adapted for Aus­tralian use.

Mr Capp has al­ready been us­ing the UK check for two years at Bentleigh West, where cards are used to test how kids sound out “real words” and “non-words” of the same make-up — for ex­am­ple, “coin” and “froin”.

“The kids don’t even know they’re be­ing tested, to be hon­est,” he said.

“I can then pull that data out and talk to teach­ers about a sound the kids might not be pick­ing up.”

Teach­ers known to the chil­dren would ad­min­is­ter the Aus­tralian as­sess­ment and use an online sys­tem to score and report re­sults to teach­ers and par­ents or guardians.

Mr Birm­ing­ham said the idea behind the check was to “en­sure stu­dents don’t slip through the cracks”.

“By iden­ti­fy­ing ex­actly where stu­dents are at in their devel­op­ment early at school, ed­u­ca­tors can in­ter­vene to give ex­tra sup­port to those who need it to stop them slip­ping behind the pack,” he said.

Mr Birm­ing­ham said he would talk with state and ter­ri­tory lead­ers and ed­u­ca­tion author­i­ties over a trial and im­ple­men­ta­tion roll­out.


Bentleigh West Pri­mary School grade 1 stu­dents Pippa, Billy and Anny.

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