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Results: National Literacy Survey



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J f c M E D I A R E L E A S E

DR DAVID KEMP, MR Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training

September 15,1997

RESULTS - NATIONAL LITERACY SURVEY

About a third of primary school children cannot read or write at an adequate standard according to the results of the first National Literacy Survey in Australia in 16 years, the Federal Minister for Schools, Dr David Kemp, announced today.

The results also show: • the problem gets worse as students progress from Year 3 to Year 5 • boys are well behind girls, eg. 41% of boys in Year 5 cannot write satisfactorily • most indigenous students (an average 76%) cannot read or write satisfactorily.

Dr Kemp said the findings were a national disgrace, indicating a third of all children in Australia were at risk of being disadvantaged for life.

“It is now clear Australia has a serious literacy problem among its children,” Dr Kemp said.

“The system is failing tens of thousands of children. It is feeding the unemployment queue and denying children basic skills to participate fully in society. This situation has been allowed to drift on for too long. It must not be tolerated.

“Since the survey was held, the Federal Government won support from all States and Territories for a national literacy plan, which aims to have every child reading and writing properly by the end of Year 3.

“This national co-operative effort, involving all levels of government, communities and parents, must proceed urgently. Making sure every child can read and write properly must be reinstated as the first priority of every school.”

The Federal Government’s National Literacy Survey was the most comprehensive assessment of primary school children ever in Australia. It was supported by all State and Territory Governments, peak non-government school authorities, the teaching profession and parents groups.

During a six-week period in August and September, 1996, about 7500 children in Year 3 and Year 5 (about 3750 children in each Year level) and an extra sample of about 800 indigenous children were assessed in reading, writing (including spelling) speaking, viewing and listening.

The results were analysed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in relation to a national standard devised by a benchmarking tasking supported by all State and Territory Education Ministers.

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The main findings are: (see pages 3 & 4 fo r all results) Main Sample • Year 3 Reading: 73% at the standard or better; 27% below the standard • Year 3 Writing: 72% at the standard or better; 28% below the standard • Year 5 Reading: 71 % at the standard or better; 29% below the standard • Year 5 Writing: 67% at the standard or better; 33% below the standard

More students fail to meet a satisfactory standard in Year 5 compared with Year 3. In writing, the percentage below the standard increases from 28% in Year 3 to 33% in Year 5. In reading, the percentage below the standard increases from 27% in Year 3 to 29% in Year 5.

Indigenous Sample • Year 3 Reading: 19% at the standard or better; 81% below the standard • Year 3 Writing: 29% at the standard or better; 71% below the standard • Year 5 Reading: 23% at the standard or better; 77% below the standard • Year 5 Writing: 24% at the standard or better; 76% below the standard

In March, 1997, the Federal Government received support from all State and Territory Education Minister for a national literacy plan, which aims to have every child reading and writing at or above the standard by the end of Year 3 .

Under the plan, scheduled to start in 1998:

• all children will be assessed by their teacher soon after starting school • there will be special programs for children needing extra help • national standards in literacy and numeracy will be applied • every* student in Year 3 in Australia will be assessed against the national standards annually • every* Year 5 student in Australia will be assessed against the national standards annually as

soon as possible • the results of each school system in all States and Territories will be made public and available for comparison • professional development for teachers will be expanded to ensure the goal that every children is

reading and writing satisfactorily by the end of Year 3 is met.

(* Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, which presently do not assess all Year 3 and Year 5 students, agreed to test all Year 3 and Year 5 students against the national standards as soon as possible.)

The Federal Government has increased funding for literacy programs and will provide $635 million for literacy in the next four years.

It recently announced $6.2 million for a new program providing indigenous students with English as a Second Language (ESL) tuition. From next year, every indigenous child, whose first language is not English, school will receive special ESL tuition when they start school. Until now, these programs have only been available to new migrant and refugee children.

The Federal Government has increased by $116 million funding for indigenous education in the period 1996-1999.

Media inquiries: Michael Smith 016 287 494 or (02) 6277 7540. (A summary o f the results is on the internet at http://www.deetya.gov.au/divisions/schools/survey.htni) Coni’...

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RESULTS - NATIONAL LITERACY SURVEY

YEAR 3

READING At the standard

or better

Below the standard

Main Sample 73% 27%

Boys 66% 34%

Girls 77% 23%

English Language Background 73% 27%

Language Background other than English 62% 38%

High Socio-Economic Status 88% 12%

Medium Socio-Economic Status 72% 28%

Low Socio-Economic Status 62% 38%

Indigenous Sample 19% 81%

WRITING

Main Sample 72% 28%

Boys 65% 35%

Girls 81% 19%

English Language Background 74% 26%

Language Background other than English 63% 37%

High Socio-Economic Status 90% 10%

Medium Socio-Economic Status 73% 27%

Low Socio-Economic Status 70% 30%

Indigenous Sample 29% 71%

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RESULTS - NATIONAL LITERACY SURVEY

YEARS

READING At the standard Below the

or better standard

Main Sample 71% 29%

Boys 65% 35% Girls 76% 24%

English Language Background 12% 28% Language Background other than English 56% 44% High Socio-Economic Status 87% ' 13%

29% Medium Socio-Economic Status 71% Low Socio-Economic Status 47% 53%

Indigenous Sample 23% 77%

WRITING

Main Sample 67% 33%

Boys 59% 41%

Girls 74% 26%

English Language Background 67% , 33%

Language Background other than English 63% 37%

High Socio-Economic Status 81% 19%

Medium Socio-Economic Status 67% 33%

Low Socio-Economic Status 57% 43%

Indigenous Sample 24% 76%

Media inquiries: Michael Smith 016 287 494 or (06) 277 7540. (Information kits including the ACER report can he obtained by phoning DEETYA on 02 - 6240 8537.)