Children put to test
CHILDREN in early primary school face mandatory literacy and numeracy tests and screening to ensure they are taught phonics under a national plan to stop the decline in performance.
The literacy and numeracy checks will be carried out on every Year 1 student in Australia following national test results that revealed one in 20 students fail to reach minimum standards for reading and maths.
While the check hasn’t yet been developed, it would become part of the National Assessment Program as early as 2019.
Researchers said the failure to achieve in the early school years flowed through to adulthood, with up to 20 per cent having problems with numeracy later in life.
A panel of teachers and education experts found the most effective phonics instruction methods were not being used by teachers routinely in Australian classrooms.
The panel, headed by Dr Jennifer Buckingham, has recommended Australia adopt a phonics check used in the United Kingdom that has been found to boost students’ results.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, who will present the panel’s landmark report to a meeting of the Education Council today, said an “overwhelming case” had been made for literacy and numeracy checks for all Australian school children.
“We have seen national and international tests that highlight while Australia has an excellent education system, our results have stagnated or even declined in some cases,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This report plainly highlights the need for action.
“The evidence is clear that phonics and numeracy checks will boost outcomes for Australian students.
“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.
“These skills checks are not expected to be a confronting test but rather a light touch assessment that ensures teachers, parents and schools know at the earliest possible stage if children aren’t picking up reading or counting skills as quickly as they should.”
Senator Birmingham said talks with state and territory ministers and education authorities would flesh out how the screening program would be rolled out.