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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2654 ..

Literacy and Numeracy

MR CONNOLLY: My question is also addressed to Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Education and Minister for making his Chief Minister look very confident. In the light of the recent criticism of literacy and numeracy levels in the ACT by the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, can the Minister outline what steps he has taken to improve outcomes for students in this area?

Mrs Carnell: Can you tell us what you did?

MR STEFANIAK: The Chief Minister interjects, "Can you tell us what you did?". I think that is very appropriate, Mr Connolly. We are committed to high standards of literacy and numeracy and are monitoring the progress of individual students. This year the department has trialled a K-to-10 learning assistance program to assess student needs in all government primary and high schools, in Years 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8. The program provides additional resources of $4.59m to meet the literacy and numeracy needs of students. The Education Department also routinely assesses students' basic literacy and numeracy skills. Many schools assess the literacy needs of students in Year 1 and address student needs through either learning assistance teacher support or the reading recovery program. Information released by the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations related to the K-to-10 learning assistance program. This information is gathered as a mechanism to allocate resources. It is not a program to measure standards of literacy and numeracy. The statistics cannot be used, therefore, to determine literacy and numeracy standards in ACT government schools - if that is what you are referring to, Mr Connolly.

The Government is aware of the learning assistance needs of students, and it recognises that there will be students who require additional assistance to meet the demands expected by both their school and their parents. While it is not possible to directly compare the abilities of our students with counterparts interstate, ACT government and non-government schools are involved in the national schools English literacy survey. This is a trial program for assessing literacy standards. It involves 30 teachers and their classes, with full implementation planned in 1996. A new section, Outcomes and Reporting, has been established as a 1995 budget initiative, Mr Connolly.

Ms McRae: What have you done to help?

MR STEFANIAK: That is one, for starters, is it not, Ms McRae? So, too, is the other program I mentioned earlier, if you had listened. The new section will develop procedures for systematic reporting to government on literacy and numeracy standards in the ACT. Mr Connolly, all ACT government primary and high schools are trialling the nationally validated student profiles. Those profiles will form the basis of assessing student performance from 1997 in primary schools and from 1998 in high schools. They will provide a common assessment procedure to inform parents on their child's progress.

MR CONNOLLY: By way of a supplementary question, I ask: Would the Minister agree that we may do better if we focus more on these bread-and-butter issues like literacy and less on bumbling and fumbling on sport policy?

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