WA stu­dents turn minds to sci­ence

Pilbara News - - News - Bethany Hi­att

While less than half of Year 6 stu­dents could reach a pro­fi­cient stan­dard on a na­tion­wide sci­ence lit­er­acy test, WA stu­dents have im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly.

The Aus­tralian Cur­ricu­lum, As­sess­ment and Re­port­ing Author­ity, which runs the tests ev­ery three years, said stu­dents’ na­tional re­sults had not im­proved since the last as­sess­ment, with just 55.1 per cent of stu­dents reach­ing or ex­ceed­ing the bench­mark.

But the pro­por­tion of WA stu­dents reach­ing the pro­fi­cient stan­dard had risen from 46.6 per cent in 2006 to 57.7 per cent in 2015. ACARA chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Ran­dall said the re­sults of this as­sess­ment, along with those of in­ter­na­tional tests, high­lighted the need for pri­mary schools to im­prove the way they taught sci­ence.

He said that was why a re­port re­leased re­cently in­cluded a chap­ter for teach­ers with sug­ges­tions on how to im­prove sci­ence learn­ing.

ACARA as­sess­ment man­ager Stan­ley Rabi­nowitz said the test had also sur­veyed stu­dents on their in­ter­est in sci­ence.

“What’s in­ter­est­ing about it is even though per­for­mance is rel­a­tively low, in­ter­est is high,” he said. “Around 80 per cent of stu­dents sur­veyed show an in­ter­est in learn­ing about sci­ence, do­ing sci­ence-based ac­tiv­i­ties and po­ten­tially pur­su­ing sci­ence based ca­reers.

“So the in­ter­est is there, the goal now is to turn that in­ter­est into higher achieve­ment.”

Louis Shep­herd, deputy prin­ci­pal at Ap­ple­cross Pri­mary School, which was one of 88 WA schools to take part in the sci­ence test­ing, said the school had grow­ing mo­men­tum for sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy with a new lab­o­ra­tory in a ren­o­vated class­room and a con­tin­ued fo­cus on build­ing teach­ers’ ex­per­tise.

“We are still adding more equip­ment to our lab but it’s go­ing to fea­ture elec­tronic mi­cro­scopes, ro­bot­ics, com­put­ers, iPads, a smart board and more, as well as the tra­di­tional lab coats and test tubes,” he said.

Mr Shep­herd said the school was lead­ing the way in keep­ing its own teach­ers, and oth­ers from lo­cal schools, at the fore­front in teach­ing the new tech­nolo­gies cur­ricu­lum. This term in sci­ence, stu­dents at Ap­ple­cross were learn­ing about earth and space, for ex­am­ple, ge­o­log­i­cal changes in ex­treme weather.

Ap­ple­cross Pri­mary School sci­ence stu­dents Jar­rod Pre­to­rius, Sascha Mur­phy Boyes, Thomas Lig­gins, and Emer­son Lawrence. Pic­ture: Michael Wil­son

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