NEW TEST FOR KIDS
National test to assess phonics and numeracy standard
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.