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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2004 2004) . . Page.. 163 ..

performance in literacy and numeracy against national benchmarks. All government and Catholic schools and some independent schools participated in this years ACTAP. Benchmarks describe nationally agreed minimum acceptable standards for aspects of literacy and numeracy. If not achieved, a student will have difficulty making sufficient progress at school.

Mr Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to report to the Assembly that ACT students continue to perform well above national benchmarks in reading, writing and numeracy. In reading, ACT schools continue to maintain the high standards of previous years. There is improvement in year 7 reading results from 91 per cent above benchmark in 2002 and 2003 to 95 per cent above benchmark in 2004. In writing, our students continue to achieve excellent results with results in 2004 similar to those in previous years. In numeracy, ACT students performed at a high level with 95 per cent of year 3 students and 92 per cent of year 5 students above benchmark in 2004. The results for year 7 students against numeracy benchmark is of concern, being lower than those in reading and writing. However, we believe this is a trend nationwide and the ACT results from 2001 to 2004 are amongst the best in the country.

In particular, I would like to draw the attention of the Assembly to some excellent results which can be draw from the ACTAP figures. There is a high proportion of students achieving in the two top profile levels in reading, writing and numeracy in years 3, 5 and 7, and year 9 results were consistent with those in previous years with over 50 per cent of students in the top two profile levels.

Mr Speaker, yesterday the ACT education sector also received more good news through the results compiled as part of the program for international student assessment, or PISA. The PISA program, which began in 2000, focussed on reading and literacy and covered more than 300,000 secondary students in 43 countries. A second round of study focussed on results in mathematics and problem solving. The report released this week focussed on this study. The test results show that some school systems do better than others in providing teenagers—these are 15-year-olds—with skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. Australia did very well in this study, with ACT students in particular returning impressive results.

Mr Speaker, 893 students from the ACT participated in the study, with 601 students from public schools, 201 students from the Catholic system and 91 from independent schools. The schools and students were randomly selected, with the result that a high proportion of public school students from the ACT participated in the study.

In reading literacy only one country achieved significantly better results than Australia, and that was Finland. In scientific literacy only three countries achieved better results than Australia, with Finland, Japan and Korea achieving higher scores across the student sample. In maths only four countries outperformed Australia, with Hong Kong/China, Finland, the Netherlands and South Korea not far ahead of our performance. In problem solving, four countries performed better than Australia, with Korea, Hong Kong/China, Finland and Japan registering better results than Australian students. Australian students also performed well above the OECD average in this area.

These results are a great endorsement of the hardworking teachers and students in all Australian schools. However, special mention must be made of the ACT results.

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