Qld rejects plans for Year 1 student to face new tests

Qld rejects plans for Year 1 student to face new tests”

The literacy and numeracy checks will be carried out on every Year 1 student in Australia following national test results that reveal one in 20 students fail to reach minimum standards for reading and maths.

The test, which was recommended by a government-appointed panel on Monday, would consist of a one-on-one interview with a teacher in an "informal" assessment.

Researchers said the failure to achieve in the early school years flowed through to adulthood, with up to 20 per cent having problems with numeracy later in life.

Simon Birmingham, Australia's Minister for Education and Training, convened the panel earlier in 2017 to investigate options for grade one testing.

The panel saw it as vital the checks not be viewed as "NAPLAN for Year 1 students" and said while individual results should be given to parents, school-level results must not be made public, unlike the higher years NAPLAN data.

Senator Birmingham discussed the report with state and territory education ministers at an Education Council meeting on Friday and will follow up with other school systems, such as the Catholic ones, to plan how to improve literacy and numeracy tests for children in the early school years.

The check would be conducted with a teacher familiar with the student and would occur midyear in year 1, the second year of schooling (after kindergarten).

The numeracy test should also be an oral test because, in year 1, "you don't want an assessment to depend on a child's writing skills", Dr Buckingham said.

The literacy test would include a strong focus on phonics, or the "sounding out" of words.

The panel adopted the English model of a compulsory phonics screening check that has been mandatory since 2012 but noted that "no similar brief systemic tools" existed for numeracy, requiring a new test to be developed.

"Once again the Turnbull Government are trying to dictate to states how to run schools", she said.

'Australia can not afford to follow the status quo in schooling'.

Such a focus would help identify children with dyslexia, Senator Birmingham said.

The education minister said he "hoped" it wouldn't be necessary to tie extra funding to states adopting the test, but did not rule it out. "The WA Government already recognises the need for phonics instruction methods in schools and has committed $3.5 million to establish a Centre of Excellence in Literacy and Explicit Instruction to develop an increased knowledge in this teaching method".

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