Students in primary schools across WA are lagging behind their eastern states counterparts in literacy and numeracy, but by Year 9 they are leading the nation in reading and ahead of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in numeracy.
An analysis of the 2021 NAPLAN results by the Grattan Institute found students in disadvantaged groups in particular were falling behind the rest of Australia.
Children whose parents were not working or had not finished high school were returning lower test scores compared to the rest of their peers.
Indigenous students, particularly those in very remote parts of the state, were also behind the average across all areas, but statistics show their results have improved over recent years.
At the same time as the NAPLAN report was released, the Australian Education Union released the results of a survey which determined that the majority of principals at state schools were against NAPLAN testing.
Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe told Radio 6PR it was a question of how NAPLAN was connected to teaching and learning that was the issue. It did not reflect student ability.
“It’s the structure but also the pressure that’s experienced in schools, and we believe that it doesn’t properly assess student outcomes,” she said.
“It also doesn’t account for the hard work that teachers put into identifying their students’ educational needs, and that work that they need to do in the classroom to address those needs.
“Surely assessment is about identifying early on if children need that extra help and putting the structures in place to address their educational needs. That’s what we think needs to happen.”