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Literacy, numeracy and science

Literacy, numeracy and science

Strategy: Improve performance of all students in literacy, numeracy and science through targeted initiatives, including implementing the government response to the Queensland Education Performance Review

Video: Bald Hills State School, Kick Start to Learning

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The Network Ten Showcase Award for Excellence in the Early Phase of Learning
Bald Hills State School, Kick Start to Learning

Members of the community and teachers at Bald Hills State School have created a wonderful partnership in Kick Start to Learning. In the campaign to improve the children's literacy and numeracy skills in the early years, there are now 15 different support and intervention programs for Prep to Year 3 students.

Each child is matched with the program that is right for them. Not only has student performance in reading, writing and numeracy improved, but members of the community have become very willing partners crucial to Kick Start to Learning's success.

Bald Hills State School, Kick Starting Learning.

National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy

In 2009, Australian schools undertook the second year of testing under the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). The national tests assess the skills of all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

Students from all state and non-state schools across Australia take part in these tests in May of each year. These tests measure how all students are performing against national standards. NAPLAN was developed collaboratively by the Australian Government, state and territory governments and non-state school sectors. The national reports on NAPLAN test results are produced by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).

The administration, marking and reporting of the NAPLAN tests in Queensland is coordinated by the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). Delivery of 2009 NAPLAN individual student reports by the QSA and access for schools to school reports are available via the secure QSA website External Link.

The 2009 NAPLAN outcomes report, providing results for all Queensland schools by test area, is also available on the QSA website External Link.

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Queensland Education Performance Review

In 2008, the performance of Queensland students in the first NAPLAN tests prompted an independent review of Queensland primary schools, with a focus on literacy, numeracy and science. Professor Geoff Masters, Chief Executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, conducted the Queensland Education Performance Review, known as the Masters Review, and released his report on 1 May 2009. Professor Masters made five recommendations to improve teaching and assessment of literacy, numeracy and science in primary schools.

As a result of the Masters Review, significant efforts are underway at the state and national level to improve the performance of students in literacy, numeracy and science. Across Queensland, the department is working with our education partners to implement a range of initiatives:

  • The Smarter Schools National Partnership Agreement, will deliver high-quality programs from 2009-15 to improve teaching quality and literacy and numeracy development, and to provide specific support for schools in low socioeconomic status (low SES) school communities.
  • Summer Schools have provided opportunities for over 5600 state school students to improve their literacy and numeracy achievement by participating in this unique learning program.
  • Turnaround Teams work with school leaders and staff in low SES school communities to implement, review and refine their school reform strategies to ensure that all students achieve to the best of their abilities.
  • Resources have been developed to help parents and carers assist their children with literacy and numeracy. They are available online at Achieving Literacy and Numeracy - Parent Resources
  • The Closing the Gap Education Strategy will deliver a targeted and decentralised approach to Indigenous education in Queensland. One of the key aims of the strategy is to halve the gap in Year 3 reading and numeracy results by 2012. The strategy contains various proactive interventions, including the comprehensive implementation of the Embedding Indigenous Perspectives in Schools program.
  • The Roadmap for curriculum, teaching, assessment and reporting in Years 1-9 identifies five priorities as a focus for schools, regions and central office. It provides principals and teachers with practical resources to help them address these priorities and improve student achievement. The roadmap links to a resource portal for teachers to help implement the P-12 Curriculum Framework.

The Masters' Review also recommended a range of strategies to support current teachers and school leaders, and ensure that aspiring teachers can demonstrate competency in the knowledge of, and ability to teach, literacy, numeracy and science.

In partnership with the Queensland College of Teachers, an advanced professional development framework for teachers has been created and a pre-registration test is being developed for trialling later this year. The pre-registration test is authorised by amendments to the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 which were enacted in March 2010.

In line with Masters' recommendation for greater support for school leaders and increased opportunities to share experiences and to learn from 'best practice', the Queensland Education Leadership Institute has been established. The Institute is an innovative partnership between the Queensland Government, the Association of Independent Schools Queensland and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, and will provide advanced professional development to current and aspiring school leaders across the three sectors.

In December 2009, the department released a progress report (new window) Adobe PDF document on the implementation of the Queensland Education Performance Review.

The next progress report will be published in late 2010.

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Outcomes of the NAPLAN 2009 tests

NAPLAN assesses a student's ability in four result areas of literacy (reading, writing, spelling, and grammar and punctuation) and numeracy (number, measurement, chance and data, and space and algebra).

NAPLAN results are available for each of the result areas of literacy, and numeracy results are available only for numeracy as a whole. The results are reported across a ten-band national scale for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, with results for any one year level reported across six bands as follows:

  • Year 3 - bands 1 to 6
  • Year 5 - bands 3 to 8
  • Year 7 - bands 4 to 9
  • Year 9 - bands 5 to 10.

The National Minimum Standard (NMS) is located at the second lowest band for each year level. Students whose results are in the NMS band are considered to have demonstrated the basic elements of literacy and numeracy for the year level.

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Literacy and numeracy - National Minimum Standard Performance Indicator symbol

Between 2008 and 2009, Queensland improved its NMS performance in 17 of the 20 result areas. Between 2008 and 2009, Queensland also moved its overall ranking against other states and territories from 7th to 6th.

The highest ranked result areas in 2008 was Year 9 numeracy, where Queensland was ranked 4th. The highest performing ranked result areas in 2009 was Year 7 numeracy, where Queensland was ranked 4th relative to the other states and territories.

In Year 3 numeracy, Queensland improved its NMS ranking against the other states and territories from 7th in 2008 to 6th in 2009. In Year 3 and Year 5 literacy, Queensland improved its ranking relative to the other states and territories in two of the four result areas (reading, and grammar and punctuation).

Between 2008 and 2009, Queensland improved its Year 7 ranking relative to the other states and territories in all result areas tested. The largest improvements were in writing and spelling, where Queensland moved from 7th to 5th relative to the other states and territories.

Between 2008 and 2009, Queensland improved its Year 9 performance relative to other states and territories in three result areas of literacy (reading, writing and spelling).

Figures 10-12 show the percentage of all Queensland students at or above the national minimum standard (NMS) in reading, writing and numeracy.

Figure 10: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Reading comparative data: Queensland & Australia

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Reading comparative data: Queensland & Australia

Graph showing percentage of Queensland students from all schools (state and non-state) at or above the national minimum standard in reading, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 11: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Writing comparative data:Queensland & Australia

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Writing comparative data:Queensland & Australia

Graph showing percentage of Queensland students from all schools (state and non-state) at or above the national minimum standard in writing, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 12: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Numeracy comparative data: Queensland & Australia

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Numeracy comparative data: Queensland & Australia

Graph showing percentage of Queensland students from all schools (state and non-state) at or above the national minimum standard in numeracy, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Notes:

  1. NMS: National Minimum Standard
  2. 95 per cent confidence intervals are shown for the percentage of students at or above NMS
  3. Error bars depict errors within each year, thus comparisons across years should not be based on the confidence intervals shown

Figures 13-15 show the percentage of Queensland state school students at or above the national minimum standard (NMS) in reading writing and numeracy.

Figure 13: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Reading comparative data: Queensland state schools & Australia

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Reading comparative data: Queensland state schools & Australia

Graph showing percentage of Queensland students from state schools at or above the national minimum standard in reading, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 14: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Writing comparative data:Queensland state schools & Australia

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Writing comparative data:Queensland state schools & Australia

Graph showing percentage of Queensland students from state schools at or above the national minimum standard in writing, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 15: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Numeracy comparative data: Queensland state schools & Australia

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 Numeracy comparative data: Queensland state schools & Australia

Graph showing percentage of Queensland students from state schools at or above the national minimum standard in numeracy 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Notes:

  1. NMS: National Minimum Standard
  2. 95 per cent confidence intervals are shown for the percentage of students at or above NMS
  3. Error bars depict errors within each year, thus comparisons across years should not be based on the confidence intervals shown

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Literacy and numeracy - mean scale scores

In addition to the improvement in 17 out of 20 components using the national minimum standard, between 2008 and 2009 Queensland improved its mean scale score performance in 19 of the 20 result areas. Based on mean scale scores, Queensland improved its performance relative to the other states and territories in two result areas of the test - Year 5 numeracy, where Queensland improved from 7th to 6th, and Year 7 grammar and punctuation, where Queensland moved from 6th to 5th. Queensland remained stable relative to other states and territories in 16 result areas.

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Science

Queensland's relative performance against other Australian jurisdictions in science (for both state and non-state schools) can be sourced from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006 test and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007 test.

Both of these international assessments use a sample of students. For PISA 2006, 14 000 students from 356 Australian schools participated, from all states and territories, and all sectors of schooling. For the TIMSS 2007 test, over 8000 students from 457 Australian schools participated, again from all states and territories, and all sectors of schooling.

The student population for the PISA test is students aged 15 years, and the student population for the TIMSS test is students in Year 4 (approximately 9 years of age) and Year 8 (approximately 13 years of age).

On the PISA 2006 test, Queensland was ranked 5th of the eight states and territories in scientific literacy, on the basis of the mean score.

On the TIMSS 2007 test for Year 4 students, on the basis of the mean score, Queensland was ranked 8th of the eight states and territories in scientific literacy.

On the TIMSS test for Year 8 students, on the basis of the mean score, Queensland was ranked 4th of the eight states and territories in scientific literacy. However, there was a very small variation across the states in average science achievement in Year 8, such that there was no statistical difference between state scores.

Video: Corinda Cluster, Kids' STEM Convention: Inspiration, Investigation, Celebration!

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The Commonwealth Bank of Australia Showcase Award for Excellence in the Middle Phase of Learning
Corinda Cluster, Kids' STEM Convention: Inspiration, Investigation, Celebration!

The scientists of the future are being nurtured through the Corinda Cluster's Kids' STEM Convention.

Now in its third year, this collaborative project has grown to involve 20 primary and secondary schools whose students participate in a science conference, develop their own investigations and showcase their scientific results.

The students are cultivating links with their local university and science communities while discovering their own career interests in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The Corinda Cluster, fostering future scientists.

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Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan

As part of the Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan, the department is providing funding of $72.3 million over three years. In 2009-10, $20.3 million was provided for:

  • additional full-time teachers to provide between 10 and 20 hours of intensive teaching each year for Years 3 to 5 students not meeting NMS in literacy and numeracy
  • 91 literacy and numeracy coaches in schools that are not achieving national minimum standards
  • the establishment of at least 72 summer schools to assist some 9000 Years 5 and 7 students (over three years).

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Literacy - the Key to Learning: Framework for Action in state schools

In 2009-10, the department continued implementation of the $18 million Literacy - the Key to Learning program providing:

  • access to a five days of literacy professional development for Years 4 to 7 teachers
  • catch-up rounds for Prep to Year 3 teachers and Early Years teacher aides
  • literacy leadership sessions for principals and other school leaders.
  • from the beginning of Semester 1, 2010, access to five days of professional development for Years 8 and 9 teachers.

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Numeracy: Lifelong Confidence with Mathematics-Framework for Action 2007-2010 in state schools

The Numeracy: Lifelong Confidence with Mathematics Framework emphasises professional development to ensure teachers thoroughly understand numeracy, the implications of numeracy across the curriculum, and the promotion of best practice in numeracy teaching.

During 2009-10, the department supported the implementation of the Numeracy: Lifelong Confidence with Mathematics - Framework for Action 2007-2010 in state schools through:

  • conducting facilitator training and professional development in the First Steps in Maths program
  • supporting professional learning communities and networks
  • developing online mathematics and numeracy resources and modules on the departmental website.

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Science Spark

In 2009-10, the department provided $11.1 million to reignite interest in science across Years 4 to 7 by:

  • employing 100 primary science facilitators in primary schools to work with teachers and students in Years 4 to 7
  • providing professional development for Years 4, 6 and 7 primary teachers.

Video: Town High Teach Cluster, Successful Transition Through Middle School Science

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The Commonwealth Bank of Australia Showcase Award for Excellence in the Middle Phase of Learning
Town High Teach Cluster, Successful Transition Through Middle School Science

How far does a snake-lolly stretch? That's just one of the scientific questions investigated in 'Food Science to Takeaway' as part of the Successful Transition Through Middle School Science program.

Since 2003, Townsville State High School has worked with hundreds of middle school students from eight feeder primary schools to improve their science literacy and develop a lifelong passion for science.

The program has increased interest to such an extent that tertiary science enrolments from Townsville State High School have increased by almost 60 per cent in the last four years.

Local students are now entering high school with a much greater knowledge of science and the Year 9 students, the middle school mentors are also more confident with science.

Town High Teach Cluster, serving up dynamic science.

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Year of Environmental Sustainability in Queensland Schools

Our future and wellbeing are dependent on our ability to meet the environmental challenges we face. The Queensland Government is taking action to reduce our state's carbon footprint through the significant targets set out in Toward Q2: Tomorrow's Queensland.

To that end, the Queensland Government has announced 2010 as the Year of Environmental Sustainability (YES) in schools. YES will build on a range of environmental sustainability strategies and initiatives currently being implemented in Queensland state schools. It will embrace the themes of water conservation, waste minimisation, energy efficiency, biodiversity improvement, travel trends and school ground improvement.

YES will aim to:

  • increase awareness and foster an understanding of environmental sustainability in state schools across Queensland
  • support teachers in embedding environmental education and sustainability in their teaching practice
  • empower schools and students to become more environmentally sustainable in everyday practices to reduce their ecological footprint
  • promote the achievement of Queensland schools and their students in adopting environmentally sustainable practices.

Further information about education for environmental sustainability in Queensland state schools can be found at Year of Environmental Sustainability.

The YES Principal Champion is Michael Zeuschner. Michael is the principal of Bulimba State School which is one of Queensland's most environmentally sustainable schools.

The Year of Environmental Sustainability Principal Champion travelled throughout Queensland supporting YES and the Earth Smart Science initiative in Queensland state schools. He also worked with school principals on ways that schools can minimise their ecological footprint and to incorporate environmental education for sustainability into their curriculum.

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Earth Smart Science schools program

Photograph showing two students sitting on grass with a giant world globe behind them.

The Queensland Government has committed $5.8 million over three years to expand the number of environmentally sustainable Earth Smart Science schools from 60 to 1000 by 2012. As of 30 June 2010, more than 300 schools have committed to the program.

Earth Smart Science schools are working to reduce their ecological footprint through the development and implementation of School Environmental Management Plans (SEMPs). The implementation and monitoring of a SEMP encourages a whole-school approach to managing school resources. The SEMP focuses on waste minimisation, water conservation, energy efficiency and biodiversity improvements.

The key to the Earth Smart Science schools program is to foster knowledge of, and commitment to, environmental sustainability through integration of the SEMP process into the curriculum, with a particular focus on science and mathematics.

The Earth Smart Science program will build on the Queensland Environmentally Sustainable Schools Initiative (QESSI) through the establishment of an additional 21 QESSI regional hubs. From 2010-12, Earth Smart Science facilitators based at the QESSI regional hubs will work with a number of primary schools each year to support them to develop their SEMP and begin (or continue) to become more environmentally sustainable.

This program targets Queensland state primary schools, including P-10 and P-12 schools.

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Queensland Studies Authority

The QSA provides information and advice to support all Queensland schools and teachers to improve the literacy, numeracy and science achievement of Queensland students. The QSA website External Link contains links to the following initiatives:

  • SunLANDA program, which assists teachers to analyse data from their students' performances on the NAPLAN tests
  • APEL, a curriculum audit tool to assist schools and teachers in developing curriculum
  • Years 4 to 9 literacy and numeracy indicators, which describe expected learning in literacy and numeracy for children in these year levels, and provide teachers with a resource to support planning for teaching, learning and assessment.

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