There are “promising signs” of improvements in primary reading levels, says Geoff Masters, a leading voice in education.
Masters, who is CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), said that educators across most states and territories had recognised student reading difficulties early on which prevented literacy issues from developing.
In an article based on ACER Policy Insights paper, ‘Is school reform working?’, Masters hailed the “significant efforts” of state, territory and commonwealth governments who intervened before student literacy issues “became entrenched”.
“Between 2008 and 2013 there have been improvements in mean NAPLAN reading levels in Year 3 in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory,” Masters wrote.
“Improvement was also observed in Year 5 in all states and territories, except New South Wales.”
A 2014 report from the Best Start kindergarten assessment showed that NSW was not increasing the proportion of children with the basic skills required when starting school.
However, Masters pointed out that the NSW government’s 5 year literacy and numeracy plan has “promoted evidence-based school and classroom practices in communities with high levels of disadvantage.”
Gabrielle Leigh, president of the Australian Government Primary Principals Association (AGPPA), said that the data is not surprising, given that “Government primary schools are dynamic places responding to the needs of students”.
“The positive findings do not surprise me at all,” Leigh told The Educator.
“Schools are continually seeking improvement and trying to deliver the very best education for each child.”
Leigh added that Government funding has helped achieve this improvement.
“Over the past 6 years with the injection of National Partnership funding and the Gonski funds many improvement strategies have been realised.
“There has been resourcing available to focus on improvement. Imagine what primary schools could achieve with additional resources.”