Victorian students are continuing to excel in reading with a significant increase in the number of students performing at the highest level according to new data released today.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses 15-year-old students from around the world in reading, science and maths, every three years.
In an outstanding result, the proportion of Victorian high performers in the top two proficiency levels in reading has jumped 40 per cent since the previous report in 2015, from 10 per cent to 14 per cent. Victoria also remained steady in science performing above the OECD average, while most other states declined.
The report also showed that student performance in maths has declined across Australia and across the world. However, as ACER has confirmed, Victoria still outperformed the majority of other Australian jurisdictions and had the lowest level of decline of all states and territories.
In light of the maths results across the country, the Minister for Education James Merlino has called for an immediate review of the national maths curriculum. Mr Merlino said if this was not agreed to Victoria would start its own review of the Victorian maths curriculum.
Mr Merlino will also raise at the next Education Council meeting the need for university courses to include pre-requisites, particularly in maths, in relevant courses and to be better communicated to prospective students.
The Andrews Labor Government has been aware for some time of the challenges in improving maths results and has already started taking action. The greatest challenge in improving maths results is the proportion of teachers teaching out-of-field. Out-of-field refers to teachers who teach subjects they have not studied or specialised in.
The Labor Government’s $244.6 million package to improve the quality of teaching and learning in all schools includes a range of incentives to attract teachers and fill hard-to-staff positions, including in regional and rural areas.
This includes $17.9 million to expand the STEM Catalyst Program to provide around 270 out-of-field secondary teachers with further training in mathematics and science. This year we introduced the Mathematics Teaching Toolkit, giving teachers high quality and evidence-based tools to boost students’ numeracy skills.
This builds on the successful Literacy Teaching Toolkit to support secondary school teachers which has seen results climb in reading and writing across the state in the most recent NAPLAN testing and in the PISA reading results.
The Labor Government also established a special advisory committee in recent months to investigate options to improve the engagement of Year 9 students in learning.
Quotes attributable to Education Minister James Merlino
“We have put significant effort into boosting literacy results over recent years, and this is vindication for all of that hard work. But there’s clearly more work to do in mathematics.”
“The bottom line is that we have too many out-of-field teachers in the maths area – that’s something we need to change. This year we have made the biggest investment of its kind in Victoria’s history to improve the quality of our workforce including attracting the best teachers and supporting them to stay in our classrooms.”
“The report also shows a national curriculum review in maths is urgently needed to make sure it is relevant and engaging for students and to reverse the long-term decline in Australian students’ maths skills.”