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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
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Numeracy Plan 2006–2008, New South Wales

Carmel Tebbutt

Curriculum Leadership Journal presents an edited excerpt from a statement by the Hon. Carmel Tebbutt MP, New South Wales Minister for Education and Training, to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on 8 March 2006.

 

The New South Wales Government is committed to improving the state-wide numeracy performance of all public school students. It aims to close the gap between students whose numeracy skills are weakest and those whose skills are outstanding. It will do so by setting state-wide targets for improvement; providing more information for parents on what their child should be achieving; tracking students as they move between schools so teachers can quickly ascertain when and in what areas they need help; and improving teacher training and classroom resources.

The government has committed $538 million over the next four years to strategies to improve student achievement in key areas of learning through numeracy programs such as Count Me In and Counting On.


Achievements in recent years

We have worked hard in New South Wales to build on strong foundations in numeracy, and the results are reflected in our performance at the state, national and international levels. In 2004–05, Year 3 and Year 5 students recorded excellent results in the basic skills test. In 2005, the mean score for Year 3 numeracy was the highest ever recorded for all Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Year 8 Indigenous students achieved their highest ever mean score in numeracy.

In international assessments, such as the trends in international maths and science study (TIMSS), New South Wales Year 8 students were ranked first overall among all Australian States and Territories in maths in 2003. Our students are achieving outstanding results.


Performance targets

The state-wide numeracy plan is the first to set numeracy targets for all New South Wales public school students. New targets will be set for Year 3, Year 5 and Year 7 students using the Basic Skills Test (BST) and the Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program (SNAP).

The plan sets challenging but attainable targets for improvement. The government’s numeracy plan targets a 10% reduction in the number of students who are weakest in numeracy outcomes in Years 3, 5 and 7 assessments.

The overall targets are:

  • 92.2% of Year 3 students achieving Band 2 or higher on Basic Skills Test Numeracy (90.8% of Year 3 students currently achieve Band 2 or higher)
  • 94.2% of Year 5 students achieving Band 3 or higher on Basic Skills Test Numeracy (93.3% of Year 5 students currently achieve Band 3 or higher)
  • 96.5% of Year 7 students achieving elementary band or higher on SNAP Numeracy (96.2% of Year 7 students currently achieve elementary Band or higher).



Support for schools and teachers

The government has committed $144 million towards the professional development of teachers. This will be directed where appropriate to supporting improvements in numeracy teaching.

A feature of the government’s new plan will be numeracy teacher networks within and between schools. These networks will help teachers work together, get expert advice and share advice on numeracy teaching. Teacher training is also an important consideration, and that is why numeracy materials will be made available to universities to support pre-service teacher training in student numeracy development. All new teachers entering the profession will be expected to have strong skills in and knowledge about numeracy teaching.

Tracking student progress within and between schools is vital to prevent students from falling behind. Schools will identify individual students and groups of students who need particular assistance in aspects of numeracy and respond to their needs. For the first time, with the technological advances now available, this information will systematically follow students between schools and from primary to high school.


Guide to parents

As part of the numeracy plan, the department will publish on its website a simple and easy-to-read numeracy guide for parents. The guide, which will be entitled ‘What my child should know in mathematics’, is based on the expectations of the mathematics syllabus and will allow parents to work with schools and to help their children overcome any identified numeracy problems.

The government has also recently appointed Professor George Cooney, an independent expert based at Macquarie University, to conduct a review of all New South Wales student assessments, with a particular focus on maths and the transition years between primary and high school. His report is expected to be released mid-year.

The government’s Numeracy Plan 2006–2008 will provide a co-ordinated state-wide approach and it contains clear targets. This government is interested in lifting the bar, closing the gap and ensuring that all students in government schools can fulfil their potential.

Key Learning Areas

Mathematics

Subject Headings

Aboriginal students
Educational planning
Mathematics teaching
Professional development
Secondary education
Educational evaluation
Education policy
New South Wales (NSW)
Numeracy