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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1771 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

across a range of curriculum areas in all high schools have participated in the writing component of First Steps.

During 1999-2000, as part of the literacy strategy, a number of primary and high schools with innovative programs were funded to provide training opportunities for teachers in other schools. The new reporting format is designed to add further value to the literacy and numeracy assessment process and it allows parents, carers and schools to assess how students and schools are achieving. These groups can then plan together accordingly to further improve the literacy and numeracy outcomes for our students, to further protect and enhance our students.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the government believes that the information to be provided to parents will enable them to monitor the progress of and achievement in their child's literacy and numeracy skills. It gives parents access to the sort of information that 76 per cent of them want. It probably does not go as far as a lot of them would probably want in terms of comparing schools with schools. I must say that only 7 per cent of them thought this information should be in the media. (Extension of time granted.) However, over 50 per cent thought parents and students should have it.

Obviously, if you gave parents and students straight league tables in respect of, for example, all 68 primary schools that were competing in every single strand, that might end up in the media. It would be like giving parents an open book. So I do not think it would be terribly practical. If that were the case, Mr Berry might well have a point. But that is not the case. We are giving parents the sort of information they want, short of league tables. The government is committed to the provision of educational services to provide all of our students with the opportunity to develop the highest possible levels of literacy and numeracy.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, we saw earlier some not too marvellous results for year 9. In 1997, when we started testing, we saw that our year 3 students were not doing terribly well with writing. When those students were tested in 1999 at the year 5 level, the writing skills had improved immensely. The results were incredibly pleasing. That is the benefit of testing; that is the benefit of seeing how kids are going. You are able to determine what steps you need to take to improve the situation, be it improving classroom teaching, getting extra resources or extra programs-whatever. This was the first time our year 9 kids were tested. It is still not too late. It is probably not quite five to midnight for them-it is probably about a quarter to midnight. But at least steps can be taken this year in year 10 to help those kids.

We are seeing the benefits of testing. It is incredibly important that the parents have proper information. We are giving them a balance, but it is not league tables, as Mr Berry states. Funnily enough, we do have a league table in Canberra. Every year a graph showing the year 12 results indicates how schools are going. We do not have a huge number of government and non-government colleges. But the results generally show the quality of all of our systems of education. They certainly show the quality of education in our government system. I do not think this form of reporting, which has been around for years, has led to the end of the world. But we are not proposing even this sort of thing.

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