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.
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