Six-year-old students will be assessed for literacy and numeracy abilities under a new Government proposed “light touch” test to check their progress.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has appointed a five-person panel to develop the new assessments for Year One students, reports 9 news.

They will report back to the nation’s education ministers in the middle of 2017.

Senator Birmingham has been pushing for the skill tests after several studies, including international comparisons, found Australian children were falling behind.

“These skills checks are not expected to be a confronting test but rather a light touch assessment that ensures teachers, parents and schools know at the earliest possible stage if children aren’t picking up reading or counting skills as quickly as they should, enabling them to intervene rapidly,” Senator Birmingham said.

“The time to act is now if we’re going to turn around our declining national and international education results,” Senator Birmingham said.

The Year One tests are likely to be based on assessments used in England that involve children verbally identifying letters and sounds in real and made up words, doing simple counting, recognising numbers, naming shapes and demonstrating basic measurement knowledge.

“In England, the improvement in the first five years of students taking part in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check has been significant…The results are even more promising in the year following a student completing the initial assessment,” Senator Birmingham said.

“The Turnbull Government’s commitment to policies shown to boost outcomes like this proposed Year 1 school assessment will allow those children who might need a little extra assistance to be identified at the earliest opportunity and better supported to succeed at school.”

The panel will also consider the best way to implement the tests, including a trial to determine when and how often they should be conducted.

The teachers’ union has labelled the tests a “distraction” from school funding issues.

Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe said she “doubts the tests will help lift literacy and numeracy standards” without schools also getting resources to help students identified as struggling.

Do you support this new testing?

Share your comments below.

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  • All children learn at there on pace. I don’t think this is a good idea


  • I’m not sure testing will make a difference.


  • Each child develops at their own rate and responds to tests differently. I question any benefits that come from testing at this age as it categories children instead of encouraging strengths and individual learning pathways. At this age the focus should be on developing the necessary skills for future learning and keeping a fun and positive approach to learning. I get that its meant to be a simple screening test – but the reality will not be that – just consider NAPLAN and the stress that places on children, staff and parents. Taking NAPLAN to an online format is forcing very young children to learn touch typing – how is that ok?


  • If this is a low key assessment -just part of the every day work it should be fine. What you don’t want to see is a formalized test that stresses kids (and parents). It also needs to be linked to supports and resources for the children identified as having additional needs. No point in identifying them and not being able to take action.


  • No I don’t support this new testing. Just in class reading and the teacher correcting the work of the kids should give enough info of the children’s abilities.


  • I know a young boy who was having difficulties with reading and basic age appropriate spelling.
    The parents asked for a meeting mid year and talked about their concerns. The teacher told them he was doing OK and there was nothing to worry about, and were told the same thing again during the last term. The first week of the new school year, his new teacher approached the Principal about concerns that the young gboy was somewhat below standard. The parents were asked to attend a meeting where the issue was calmed discussed. The parents asked where to take their son for professional evaluation. He has a form of dyslexia and is having extra tutoring besides the additional time his parents are spending helping him as in fact they were the previous year. To some extent part of a school year had been lost as it caused him to be behind in other subjects too. Fortunately his older sister and brother do not have the same problems at all and don’t need additional help, just genuine interest in their education and general wellbeing.


  • Schools definitely need more resources to teach the basics.


  • The government is good at trying to distract us from what really matters. Another budget cut measure they’re undertaking is re testing DSP customers as they changed their eligibility criteria in 2012. So they’re happy to cut off Centrelink for people who need it, but won’t stop using our money to galavant around the world. Centrelink give me less in a year then what some pollies use on a trip to the Gold Coast for a holiday


  • surely the reporting chain that goes from teacher to parent could be converted to show the education department/govt department if there is an improvement/decline rather than wasting time researching and setting up new tests- which kids always get stressed about and there is a lot of pressure on them to do well so it reflects well on the teachers and the schools.

    NAPLAN was supposed to be the bees knees as working out these sorts of things.

    What schools need is more teachers, with better resources and smaller class numbers so they can give individual attention to students. As per any school over this country everything will be different. Some schools will only focus on the ones who are meeting curriculum requirements and will leave those behind who are struggling. There is no back up plan to help and lift the struggling kids up to meet the other kids who are doing much better.

    My daughter is 9 and struggles with maths, her teacher has told me. Yet in the classroom when it is time to do maths the teachers have to rush through so much that the kids who are more adept at maths pick things up easier and my daughter and the like are still left there not 100% on what they are doing or if they are even doing it right. This is where we need to concentrate on the ones who struggle and need that extra help, by providing smaller class sizes, more incentives for new teachers to train up, and better resources – the education department has changed my daughters school reporting requirements each year that she has been there so each year the teachers have to also amend their report writing to reflect the new wish list from the education department making it more involved and due by a certain time (early on in the year) making a teachers life even more stressful than it needs to be!

    A better system that is standard across Australia needs to be implement. I move due to my husband’s work and I can tell you that the schooling does vary from state to state – and it shouldn’t! – every Australian child is entitled to learn the exact same way across the country – lets start making things unified across this country rather than state by state!


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