The results of NAPLAN tests conducted in May 2009 have been released. The tests, for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, covered achievement in reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. Student reports are being distributed to parents this month. For commentary on the results see statements by the New South Wales Government, the Victorian Government, the Queensland Government and the Western Australian Government all 11 September 2009; the further statement from the Queensland Government 14 September 2009; and statement from the South Australian Government 16 September 2009. See also article in the Brisbane Times 14 September 2009, report in the Gold Coast News 15 September 2009, and article in the Courier-Mail 15 September 2009.
Before the start of the next school year, the new Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will publish individual profiles for government and non-government schools, providing data on individual school performance and on school context. The profiles will include school level results from the 2008 and 2009 literacy and numeracy assessments. See media release 14 September 2009 from Australian Government Minister for Education, Julia Gillard. See also article in The Age 14 September 2009.
The Australian Government's new Universal Access initiative is designed to make preschool services more affordable and accessible for families. By 2013 all children will have access to 15 hours a week of quality early childhood education delivered by a university-trained early childhood education teacher for 40 weeks a year, in the year before they start school. The initiative has been supported by all state and territory governments. States and territories will use funding to boost the number of available places, increase the number of contact hours and reduce the costs of early childhood education for parents. The Universal Access initiative will also be supported by a range of early childhood reforms, including the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework, which began in July 2009. This national curriculum framework will ensure quality and consistency in the delivery of early childhood education programs across the country. The Australian Government has also committed $126.6 million nationally over four years to support the training and retention of more, better qualified early childhood professionals. See joint media release from the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, and the Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth, Kate Ellis; media release from the Western Australian Government; and article in The Sydney Morning Herald all 17 September 2009.
The Australia Council for the Arts has welcomed Professor Dennis Haskell as the new Chair of the Literature Board. Professor Haskell is a literature specialist with wide-ranging experience as a published poet, editor, critic and academic. He is currently Professor of English and Cultural Studies and past Chair of the Academic Board at the University of Western Australia. See Australia Council media release 9 September 2009 and article in The Australian 18 September 2009.
Prominent education academic Yong Zhao has opposed moves toward the adoption of national education standards in the USA, claiming that they would reduce the quality of education and stifle creativity, diversity and innovation. See his opinion piece 30 August 2009 on Freep.com.
The New South Wales Government is to set up 'an audit flying squad' to evaluate benefits received by the state from the Australian Government's stimulus spending on education. See article in The Age 16 September 2009.
The South Australian Government is appointing a new Literacy Secretariat to spearhead improvements in the literacy of the state's schoolchildren. The new secretariat will oversee a number of initiatives, including expansion of a program that provides 31 schools with the targeted support of a literacy and/or numeracy coach. See media release 11 September 2009 from State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith.
The Northern Territory Government is to mandate four hours per day of teaching in the English language in schools serving remote Indigenous communities. See article in the Brisbane Times 18 September. Concerns have been expressed by Indigenous community members and academic linguists: see Four Corners program 14 September 2009, and related report on ABC News also 14 September 2009.
The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has awarded Queensland teachers a 4% salary increase backdated to 1 July this year. The award has been criticised by the Queensland Teachers' Union. See Queensland Government media release, article in the Brisbane Times and report in The Sydney Morning Herald, all 17 September 2009.
The number of Victorian primary students suspended from public school classrooms has risen from 1089 in 2000 to 2175 last year. See article in The Age 15 September 2009, and editorial in the Herald Sun 14 September 2009.
Vegetation around fire refuge areas in 27 schools in Victoria will be cleared to ensure that the buildings are fire-proofed for the upcoming bushfire season. In addition, a new school self-assessment tool, which will replace the earlier DEECD Bushfire Safety Checklist, has been developed to assist with emergency planning processes. See Victorian Government media release 15 September 2009.
The Learning Technology Research Symposium is a half-day event in which researchers and practitioners in ICT-supported learning exchange ideas, showcase their latest work, and catch up on recent innovations in learning technology research. The symposium will take place on 1 October 2009 at The Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition at the University of Sydney.