WA students turn minds to science
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.