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National literacy and numeracy plan shows the way for students with learning difficulties.

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K091 20 June 2000

Two reports released today show that the Federal Government’s National Literacy and Numeracy Plan has paved the way for schools to address the needs of primary school age students with learning difficulties, the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp said.

Releasing Mapping the Territory: Primary School Students with Learning Difficulties: Literacy and Numeracy , and An Evaluation of ‘Making Up Lost Time In Literacy (MULTILIT), Dr Kemp urged State and Territory education authorities, teachers and schools catering for the needs of students with learning difficulties to examine the reports closely.

"Providing appropriate literacy and numeracy learning opportunities, especially for children experiencing learning difficulties, continues to be a challenge for Australia’s teachers and schools and a focus for Commonwealth Government support," said Dr Kemp.

"However, the reports show that students experiencing problems developing literacy skills should be able to meet minimum education standards if they are taught using appropriate strategies.

"It is clear that the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan has been influential in encouraging school systems and sectors to lay out clear policy initiatives and management processes for literacy and numeracy teaching of these students."

Although each report had a different focus, both conclude that clear policies and systematic instruction were essential to achieving successful outcomes for students experiencing learning difficulties.

Mapping the Territory was conducted by a research team of 17 from six universities. The report provides a national picture of how students with learning

difficulties are assisted in their literacy and numeracy learning in regular school settings and identifies successful strategies for addressing these learning needs.

The report found a wide range of approaches to providing assistance for children with learning difficulties in literacy and numeracy. While there is substantial evidence of good practice, this is uneven within systems, sectors and schools.

The three volume Mapping the Territory report includes a volume of case studies describing 20 schools in five States across Australia selected because of their exemplary approach to helping children with learning problems.

The second report is an evaluation of MULTILIT, specialist programmes designed to assist children with learning difficulties. The research was directed by Professor Kevin Wheldall, Macquarie University Special Education Centre Director and Robyn Beaman, Centre Research and Development Manager.

The project examined research data gathered on slow-progress readers typically from Years 2-7 attending MULTILIT programmes over the years 1996-1998.

"The key findings of the report are that almost all MULTILIT programmes evaluated have been very effective in raising performance levels in reading and related skills and have been shown to deliver significant and appreciable gains over short time periods," said Dr Kemp.

Dr Kemp said that information about both reports will shortly be distributed to every school in Australia.

Both reports are available through the Children’s Literacy Research Clearinghouse by contacting Ms Jill Ryan via fax (07) 3875 5686 or email

The three volumes of Mapping the Territory are available on the DETYA website, as well as the Executive Summary of the MULTILIT report. The address is:

Media contact: Jane Smith 02 6277 7460


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