Canberra, Jan 20 (IANS) Tens of thousands of Australian school children are failing to meet the minimum literacy and numeracy standards every year, a new report issued on Friday has found.
The Productivity Commission released its scathing assessment of the five-year, A$319 billion ($220 billion) National School Reform Agreement (NSRA), finding it has done little to improve student outcomes since being agreed upon by federal, state, and territory governments in 2018, reports Xinhua news agency.
The commission found the agreement lacks clear and measurable targets, reforms to improve outcomes for students from poor backgrounds, and meaningful reporting on the reform activity of governments.
In the annual National Assessment Program –Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests, which are administered to students across the country in grades three, five, seven, and nine, about 90,000 students fail to meet minimum standards each year.
Indigenous students, those from regional and remote areas and those with parents who have low educational attainment are three times more likely to fall behind than their peers.
The report calls for the next five-year national strategy to focus on better-supporting teachers and help schools implement evidence-based teaching techniques.
The current agreement is set to expire in 2024 after federal, state, and territory education ministers decided in December to extend it for another year.
Responding to the Productivity Commission report, Federal Education Minister Jason Clare described the findings as damning.
“This report makes it clear that we need serious reform in education,” he said on Friday.
“I don’t want us to be a country where your chances in life depend on who your parents are, where you live or the color of your skin. But we are now. This report tells us that.”
He said it highlights three big areas where investment and reform are really needed, which is to help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds who are falling behind to get up to basic literacy and numeracy standard, to make sure the teacher workforce is more effective, and the third is the health and wellbeing of students.