Page 164 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for that answer. Minister, how did ACT students rate against other Australian jurisdictions in the PISA results for 2003?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for her supplementary question. I am pleased to report that ACT students performed well in all areas of assessment. I think the ACT led the other jurisdictions in three of the four categories. Students from the ACT topped the maths literacy category, achieving significantly higher results than students in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. This result was very close to matching the international high point in the category registered by Hong Kong/China. In problem solving, ACT students, along with their counterparts in Western Australia, achieved significantly higher results in this category than all other states except South Australia. They were on par with the international high point—in this case, Korea.

The ACT was joined by Western Australia at the very top of the scientific literacy category, with both of these jurisdictions well ahead of other states and territories. In reading literacy, the ACT was again at the top of this measure, with more students performing in the highest percentile than other jurisdictions. Other states, including Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales also performed well in this category.

Mr Speaker, these results are from a respected international survey and are an indication that the ACT education sector in travelling extremely well. Compared to other countries and compared to other states and territories, ACT students are leaders in every field. The significance of these results should not be downplayed. They are a significant indication that out schools, teachers and students are engaged in an active learning process which is delivering results. I should say that the performance of the many public school students in the survey is particularly pleasing.

Preparations are now underway for a third round of tests in 2006, this time focussing on science. Through the various assessment processes we are seeing real improvements in some areas, which are consolidating the ACT’s leading position.

Work remains to be done on some areas, including indigenous education, with results in year 3 particularly pleasing. But more needs to be done to improve literacy and numeracy strands. The Department of Education and Training is pursuing a number of programs to facilitate this.

The education system in the ACT is supportive and active in ensuring that student literacy and numeracy levels are maintained and that students are able to function in this society once they leave the school setting. The ACT government provides support and resources to schools to address literacy and numeracy issues for students in the lowest 20 per cent of the cohort, not those just below benchmark. The ACT government will continue to address all the issues in education that impact on literacy and numeracy and we will continue to ensure that every student is able to perform to the very best of their ability.

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