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Thursday, February 02, 2006

The value of a good EDUACTION is self evident


Date : Friday, 3 Feb 2006


Author : Peter Gutwein MHA

Shadow Education Minister, Peter Gutwein, said today that there was hard evidence pointing to a crisis occurring in Year 6 and 7 classrooms in Tasmania with reading, writing and literacy standards at national lows and on the decline.
Mr Gutwein said that the most concerning aspect was that Tasmanian Year 7 students were, on average, older than Year 7 students tested in other States and Territories and had been at school for a great deal longer.
"Something is going seriously wrong in the Tasmanian education system and is getting worse with Year 7 standards slipping," Mr Gutwein said.
"Hard evidence, shows that Tasmanian students are performing worse than Year 7 students in any other State in the nation, yet are older and have been at school longer, on average, than anywhere else in Australia pointing to a major crisis in the Tasmanian education system.
"On average, Tasmanian Year 7 students are 13 years of age at the time of standards testing, four months greater than the national average and up to 10 months older than in other places in Australia.
"Further, they have been at school longer with their years of schooling by the time they have been tested in Year 7, being 7 years and 7 months. This is 5 months extra schooling than the national average and up to one year greater than anywhere else in Australia.
"With the additional months of schooling that Tasmanian Year 7 students have received, combined with their higher age levels, you would expect that their standards of reading, writing and numeracy to be much higher, but, in fact, the reverse is true.
"In all three areas, that is, reading, writing and numeracy, the proportion of Tasmanian Year 7 students able to pass the basic national benchmark is at the bottom of the class, and only compares favourably to the Northern Territory.
"In short, Tasmanian Year 7 students are older and have been at school longer than anywhere else in Australia, but are achieving much worse results.
"And the latest figures show that in all three areas, the proportions of Tasmanian Year 7 students able to pass the basic benchmarks are declining. Things are going from bad to worse, potentially resulting in a crisis.
"In fact, we have now reached a low point where almost one in every five Year 7 student cannot pass the basic numeracy standard."
Mr Gutwein said that this damning data from the Productivity Commission's national Report on Government Services 2006 followed concerns raised by the Evatt Foundation, by leading ANZ economist, Saul Eslake, by the Australian Council for Educational Research as well as a Federal Government curriculum report which all rated Tasmania as bottom of the class when it comes to education.
"Mr Eslake believes that this failure to gain reasonable or even average standards in Year 7 classrooms will have a very detrimental effect upon the ability to recruit skilled workers, to increase workforce productivity and, ultimately, ensure a sustainable, healthy Tasmanian economy."
Recently, Mr Eslake commented that: "Tasmanian kids do pretty well in the early years of schooling, suggesting that they are as innately smart as kids from anywhere else in the country but that by the time they get to Year 7 they have slipped below the national average."
"Tasmanian students are, regrettably, near the bottom of the class" "Clearly, Minister Wriedt, who has been Education Minister for eight years now, has failed on implementing effective strategies to improve the standards in Tasmanian schools, where, by the time Tasmanian students reach Year 7 they can achieve results equal to or better than the national average," Mr Gutwein said.

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Authorised by Damien Mantach, 25 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7000


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