Many Queensland Year 9 students are failing to meet basic writing standards.
Many Queensland Year 9 students are failing to meet basic writing standards.

Our kids failing to meet basic writing standards

THE proportion of Queensland high school kids failing to meet the most basic writing standard has almost doubled since the start of the decade.

The 2018 preliminary ­NAPLAN results, to be released today, indicates an alarming decline in the number of Queensland children who can create clear and effective written compositions.

2018 national writing results.
2018 national writing results.

However, Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the results told a largely positive story of improvement in the performance of Queensland students across most testing areas.

The results show the proportion of Year 7 children in Queensland who are failing to meet the national minimum standard for writing - a very basic benchmark - has risen from 8.4 per cent in 2011 to 16.3 per cent this year.

2018 national reading results
2018 national reading results

More worrying still, the proportion of children in Year 9 who are now performing below that national minimum standard has jumped from 15 per cent at the start of the decade to 26 per cent - more than a quarter of those tested.

While the writing skills of children across Australia have declined since the 2011 test, Queensland has posted some of the most dramatic slumps.

2018 national spelling results.
2018 national spelling results.

She said that proved initiatives such as the introduction of compulsory Prep and the transition of Year 7 into high school were paying off. "Since 2008, Queensland students have improved in an outstanding 16 of 20 test areas," she said.

But Ms Grace conceded that more needed to be done to address the slump in writing skills across the country and in Queensland, including looking at whether the ­NAPLAN test was an effective measure of children's writing ability.

The 2018 preliminary NAPLAN results.
The 2018 preliminary NAPLAN results.

In the Sunshine State, even the average raw writing score achieved across each of the testing cohorts - Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 - declined on last year.

But Ms Grace pointed to strong gains in the performance of Year 3 and 5 students in the reading and spelling tests, and said the 2018 Year 9 cohort had achieved some of the state's best results yet.

The 2018 preliminary NAPLAN results.
The 2018 preliminary NAPLAN results.

"Writing results are down again across the country, in all year levels. Let me be clear, this isn't just a problem for Queensland - all states and territories are in the same boat," she told The Courier-Mail yesterday.

"What we need to do is ­figure out why we're seeing this ongoing decline nationwide and what we can do to arrest and reverse it," she said.

The 2018 preliminary NAPLAN results.
The 2018 preliminary NAPLAN results.

At St Paul's School in Bald Hills, principal Paul Browning takes a relaxed approach to NAPLAN, encouraging students not to focus too much on the standardised literacy and numeracy test.

"It's always interesting to see what the kids' results are, it (NAPLAN) is useful feedback on how our teaching programs are going," he said.

 

St Paul’s Year 5 and 3 students: Charlize Heathcote, 8, Leah Cock, 10, Suhaan Lashand, 8, and Ethan Chuah, 10. Picture: Liam Kidston
St Paul’s Year 5 and 3 students: Charlize Heathcote, 8, Leah Cock, 10, Suhaan Lashand, 8, and Ethan Chuah, 10. Picture: Liam Kidston

Mr Browning, whose school has been performing above the NAPLAN national and state average for many years now, believes that the annual assessment is just a point-in-time test.

"We don't prepare for the test, we don't have it as a strong focus," he said.



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