Page 1765 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 April 2009

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community, in this case through the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

Strong literacy and numeracy skills lay the foundation for all students to succeed at school and in life. It is essential that all ACT schools give every student, from preschool to year 12, the best possible chance to excel. The ACT government is committed to ensuring that schools prioritise the teaching of these important skills and to bridging the gap between our highest and lowest achievers.

All teachers are teachers of literacy and numeracy. Equally, all students, regardless of their background, must be supported to achieve higher standards in literacy and numeracy as they move through school. The ACT’s public schools already produce amongst the best results for literacy and numeracy in the country. In the program for international student assessment, PISA, ACT students are performing consistently above the Australian average. ACT students achieved the highest average scores in Australia in reading, scientific literacy and mathematical literacy across the PISA assessments in 2000, 2003 and 2006. ACT students are also performing better than OECD students. In 2006, around 70 per cent of ACT students achieved above the OECD average in each of the three literacy domains compared to the national average of around 62 per cent. Our students also performed equal to the top performing country, Finland, in scientific literacy. In mathematical literacy they performed similarly to the highest performing country, Chinese Taipei.

The Australian Council for Educational Research was commissioned to examine the literacy performance of ACT students against Australian and OECD standards over the past three PISA assessments of 2000, 2003 and 2006. The report showed that the performance of ACT students with a high socioeconomic index is the highest of all jurisdictions. It also showed that ACT students with a low socioeconomic index performed well against their equivalent Australian peers. However, the relative performance of ACT students represents a gap greater than in other jurisdictions. The report also found that, between PISA 2000 and PISA 2006, reading literacy performance had declined amongst students at the higher end of the achievement scale.

The international trends in mathematics and science study, TIMSS, shows that ACT performance in relation to other Australian jurisdictions is again better than average, although it is variable. In some areas the ACT is leading the nation, while in others we are placed third or fourth, which is generally in the same range as New South Wales and Victoria. Our relative performance is higher in year 8 than in year 4. Our year 4 students achieved the best average score in Australia in mathematics and we were the only jurisdiction to achieve significantly above the international average. In year 4 science, we achieved above the international average but were placed fourth-highest nationally. In year 8 our students achieved slightly above the Australian average in mathematics, placing the ACT in the middle band of international achievement. For science, ACT year 4 students had the highest average score across all jurisdictions, significantly higher than the national result and equivalent to eighth place of 49 nations.

In Australia’s first literacy and numeracy tests, NAPLAN 2008, the ACT had the highest or equal highest percentage of students performing at or above the national

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