Insufficient student literacy and numeracy skills when starting primary school might play a significant role in Australia’s low achievement results in Year 4 mathematics, a new study suggested.
In a new study, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) suggested that a high proportion of Australian students enter primary school lacking in foundational literacy and numeracy skills, leading to educational lapses in Year 4 maths.
The Trends in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) of 2019 found that Australia ranked 23rd in Year 4 maths among 64 participating countries and 8 benchmarking systems.
By contrast, Aussie students placed 9th in Year 4 science and 7th in Year 8 maths and science.
According to ACER, an analysis of TIMSS student, teacher, and principal questionnaire data suggested an important factor behind Australia’s poor Year 4 maths achievement may be the low proportion of Australian students who begin primary school with foundational literacy and numeracy skills – such as recognising and writing letters of the alphabet, reading and writing some words, recognising numbers higher than 10, and doing simple addition and subtraction.
TIMMS National Research Coordinator and ACER Deputy CEO Dr Sue Thomson said that the findings “underline the importance of providing access for all children to quality pre-school and early childhood education.”
“We know there is a wide range of achievement levels within most classes, so it’s vital that we have teachers with strong pedagogical knowledge to be able to help students whatever their needs,” Dr Thomson said.