Page 1424 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 6 April 2011

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MR CORBELL: I know it is sort of parliamentary procedure 101 for those opposite but it was made quite clear yesterday that ministers have particular portfolio responsibilities and there is the convention in this place that ministers answer questions as they are deemed to be appropriate to their portfolio responsibilities. For those dunces over there that do not get it, they just need to work on that issue a bit.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell—

MR CORBELL: I withdraw. The issue of staff consultation is a matter which the government take seriously. We work very closely with staff. Staff were actively engaged in the processes involved in the review by Mr Hamburger and we will continue to work on improving those issues.


MS HUNTER: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, it is welcome news that the overall results of ACT students in last year’s NAPLAN were the best in the country. But what is concerning is ACT students’ outcomes for science. A report released by ACARA on scientific literacy revealed only 61.2 per cent of students met the proficiency standard. Using the report’s own words, nearly four out of every 10 ACT students “demonstrated only a partial mastery of the skills and understandings expected for year 6”. So, minister, what action has been taken to address this issue and raise the standard of science education in the ACT?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. I note that in the question Ms Hunter conveniently neglected to point out that the ACT’s results were in fact the best in the country and she did not in fact mention that the scale of measurement that is utilised in that report is different from NAPLAN, and that has been made quite clear on a number of occasions, including in the body of the report itself where it goes to observe that in fact 90 per cent or thereabouts of students fell within what in that report was deemed as band 3, being at or about that proficiency.

The report’s authors have made it very clear that the “proficient” standard that they refer to in that report is in fact extremely challenging, so I would caution Ms Hunter to read the fine print of the report and to please not use the same terminology or think that the same terminology that applies to that set of assessment is the same as what is reported on in NAPLAN.

I accept that there is a weakness in terms of ACARA’s reporting that has created this confusion. The P&C I think raised this issue in December of last year. I have subsequently met with them and provided further information in relation to those proficiency levels and what the report actually shows. It is critical to acknowledge those issues before one addresses the question of the ACT’s performance in science. It is the best in the country and that ought to be acknowledged. I think congratulations are due to ACT teachers and ACT students for achieving the best results in science proficiency of any jurisdiction in Australia.

That does not mean, though, that we cannot continue to improve. There are particularly targeted investments in the middle schooling years to seek to engage

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