25 February 2013 - AUSTRALIAN LITERACY

Quote of the day:

"Sometimes it is easier to do than to explain."



G'day guys,
A new report shows Australian students are not performing as well as they used to compared to their international peers. The annual progress report for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) says despite some improvements having been made in literacy and numeracy in schools, students are slipping behind internationally, especially in comparison with China.

The report says more Australians are among the lowest-performing students internationally, while fewer are top performers. The proportion of students performing at the highest levels in reading (level 5 or above) decreased from 17.6 per cent in 2000 to 12.8 per cent in 2009.

In 2009, Shanghai had 19.5 per cent of its students at level 5 or above, while just 4.1 per cent were at level 1 or below.

Australia had 14.2 per cent of its students at level 1 or below, compared with about 13 per cent in 2000.
In maths, the proportion of Australian students performing at level 5 or above decreased from 19.9 per cent in 2003 to 16.5 per cent in 2009.

The chief executive of the Grattan Institute, John Daley, says evidence of the falling grades of Australian students should act as a "wake-up call". Mr Daley says international evidence suggests the quality of a school education system is one of the most important drivers of economic success.

"We have more people in the bottom quintile and we have fewer people in the top quintile than we did nine years ago and that's a real issue given how important education is both to our economy, to people's well-being and to social equality," he said.
"That's quite a drop, it's something that we think we should be really worried about."

The top three performing countries in reading literacy in 2009 were China, New Zealand and Singapore.

Facts & figures:
'Literacy Standards in Australia' has been prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research at the request of the Commonwealth Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training to show how Australian primary school children are performing in relation to clear performance standards in reading and writing. Underlying this report is the belief that virtually all students are capable of meeting satisfactory performance standards in literacy.

The Survey was conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research under the direction of a Management Committee comprising representatives of all States and Territories, the Commonwealth, the National Catholic Education Commission, the National Council of Independent Schools Associations, the Australian Education Union, and the Independent Education Union of Australia. A nationally representative sample of 7454 Year 3 and Year 5 students participated in the Survey. These students constituted the Main Sample at each Year level. A special sample of 773 Year 3 and Year 5 Indigenous students provided additional information about the literacy achievements of a group of Indigenous students, a significant proportion of whom live in rural and remote parts of the country.

The Survey collected evidence about a broad range of literacy skills in writing (including spelling), reading, viewing, speaking, and listening. Students participating in the Survey undertook standardised (common) tasks in each of these five aspects of literacy. In writing and speaking, samples of student work and teachers classroom assessment records also were collected for analysis. All participating teachers were trained in the assessment procedures and worked with external assessors to assess student work against common marking guides provided by the Australian Council for Educational Research.

NB: The pink figures below show the percentage of students who do NOT meet the standard:


Year 3
 Main Sample (total) 73 27
Males 66 34
Females 77 23
Language Background other than English 62 38
English Language Background 73 27
High Socio-economic Status 88 12
Medium Socio-economic Status 72 28
Low Socio-economic Status 62 38
Special Indigenous Sample 19 81

Year 5
Main Sample (total) 71 29
 Males 65 35
Females 76 24
Language Background other than English 56 44
English Language Background 72 28
High Socio-economic Status 87 13
Medium Socio-economic Status 71 29
Low Socio-economic Status 47 53
Special Indigenous Sample 23 77


Year 3
Main Sample (total) 72 28
Males 65 35
Females 81 19
Language Background other than English 63 37
English Language Background 74 26
High Socio-economic Status 90 10
Medium Socio-economic Status 73 27
Low Socio-economic Status 70 30
Special Indigenous Sample 29 71

Year 5
Main Sample (total) 67 33
Males 59 41
Females 74 26
Language Background other than English 63 37
English Language Background 67 33
High Socio-economic Status 81 19
Medium Socio-economic Status 67 33
Low Socio-economic Status 57 43
Special Indigenous Sample 24 76 

 Clancy's comment: Mm ... how did we get to this point in the 'lucky' country? Who has been at the wheel?

1. "That's quite a drop, it's something that we think we should be really worried about." is the understatement of the century.
2. The 'Special Indigenous Sample' is a disgraceful state of affairs. And, why is it 'Special'? I thought everyone was equal in Australia.

3. What's going to be done to raise the levels? More meetings? More reports, or some real action?

I'm ...


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