As literacy and numeracy results from schools around the nation appear on the federal My School website today, local educators are gaining attention for improving student results.
An analysis of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data show that almost 20 Western Australian public schools made strong progress in reading or numeracy – or both – from 2014 to 2016.
Falls Road Primary School in Lesmurdie improved in both reading and numeracy over the three years thanks to a focus on teacher expertise and a range of programs.
Principal David Ingle said the school’s unique speech pathology program, in partnership with Edith Cowan University, meant it could test and support students from when they started Kindergarten.
He said that in recent years the school had also run an intensive reading program for all students.
“At the start and end of each year we identify students who will benefit from extra help in reading and comprehension,” he said.
“We have also a trained specialist education assistant who works with small groups of students twice a week to improve their skills.
“This year, one of our teachers is specialising in teaching technology and coding which is part of our ongoing plan to improve student results.”
Albany Primary School was another school which improved in reading and numeracy through a clear focus on the needs of every student.
Principal Deidre Jones said students did daily guided reading lessons using texts closely matched to their level and teachers explicitly taught individual students the skills they needed.
“Kindergarten to Year 3, we use a synthetic phonics program – where words are broken into the smallest units of sound – following a structured format,” she said.
“After Year 3, our teachers extend from this and we have intervention programs for any students who still need this form of phonics teaching.”
She said the P&C had purchased reading book series suitable for students across the school, as well as hands-on mathematics materials.
“Our teachers also focused on mental maths strategies, quick calculation skills and helping students develop automatic recall,” she said.
The 2017 NAPLAN tests will be conducted in May. For the first time, students in 77 WA public schools will do the tests online, with students at other schools will complete the tests on paper this year. Online testing will be phased in by 2020.