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Australian high school students writing at below expected levels: says report

Based on NAPLAN writing results from 2011 to 2018, AERO report notes that most Australian Year 9 students use punctuation at a Year 3 level.

85 per cent of Year 9 Australian school students are constructing sentences at or below the expected level thus showing a continuing slide in writing ability over the past seven years.

Based on NAPLAN writing results from 2011 to 2018, Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) report notes that most Australian Year 9 students use punctuation at a Year 3 level.

The AERO report observes:

“Most students’ writing skills are not meeting what is expected of them as indicated in curriculum documents.”

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AERO chief executive Jenny Donovan (Image source: Twitter)

AERO chief executive Jenny Donovan said in a statement that the reductions were particularly acute in high schools.

“She analysis shows a troubling decline. Student writing scores are consistently lower than expected of their year level. They are not writing as well as students once could in the same year level, nor as well as our curriculum says they should, and older students are experiencing the sharpest decline.” 

Further, the research showed about 18 per cent of Year 9 students were achieving a top score of six out of six in 2011, down to just eight per cent in 2018. It also includes diminishing higher marks in vocabulary, paragraphing, text structure, ideas, persuasive devices, and cohesion.

AERO has also released several resources to help support Australian teachers in improving student writing ability and will be releasing more material in the coming months.

Ms Donovan adds:

“IWe are lucky in Australia to have dedicated teachers who want their students to gain the best outcomes possible. If teachers have time, access to good resources and the opportunity to build confidence, then evidence-based practices that lead to student success will be widely adopted.”

National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for all Australian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. The tests cover skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy. From 2023, the NAPLAN test window will move to mid-March.

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