Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3827 ..
exploring with ACT schools how improved spatial awareness among students can support learning in mathematics.
In the recent budget the government allocated $9.2 million over four years to make an immediate start on providing the best possible teaching in every classroom, every day, as well as enabling continued development of long-term strategic reforms. Among the initiatives funded is working to build teacher capability in literacy and numeracy and investing in ensuring that school leaders can provide effective coaching and mentoring to their teachers. The ACT government is also growing its relationship with the University of Canberra to provide teachers with opportunities for professional learning through research collaboration, growing the University of Canberra as a centre for excellence in teaching.
As I have said repeatedly in this place, in public media and in written documents, literacy and numeracy are vital foundations to all of the learning that follows in a student’s education. So I find it strange, given the work and investment of the government, to hear Ms Lee state that I and the government consider literacy and numeracy to be redundant. Her remarks are completely untrue. It is possible for the government and schools to walk and chew gum. Improving literacy and numeracy, teaching and learning can happen alongside a vital focus on general capabilities and the 21st century skills our children and adults need for success. In fact these areas of learning are complementary.
Unavoidably relevant to the issues of school performance is NAPLAN as a performance indicator. Members know of my concerns, which I share with many in our community, about it and, importantly, the inappropriate use of its data. I have initiated through the education council, with the support of most of my colleagues from both Labor and Liberal governments, a review of NAPLAN reporting and data presentation.
Among the government’s concerns is the accuracy of comparisons in the “statistically similar schools” found on the My School website and the associated ICSEA measure. In addition to the potential for jurisdictional differences in the value of ICSEA, which has been acknowledged by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, there are compositional differences between notionally similar schools, such as a large proportion of high ICSEA schools moderated by a small proportion of low ICSEA students, compared to the more typical picture of a high proportion of medium-level ICSEA students in ACT schools.
It is entirely appropriate and prudent for the government to interrogate the reliability of data and measures used to assess school performance. Support for that comes from across the school system, including independent and Catholic schools. So while the contributions of the ANU paper and the Australia Institute report, which were produced by the same authors, are being given due consideration by the government, the underlying assumptions in their analysis are also being appropriately scrutinised. I note that the lead author of this report informed an Assembly committee last week that he is not an education policy expert and does not have any real insight into or basis upon which to comment on whether standardised testing approaches are good, bad or indifferent.