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Differentiation to improve all Years 5-9 students’ reading and writing skills

The Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education is partnering with the State Schools Division (Queensland Department of Education) in hosting a series of four panels leading to a Think Tank in November 2018 on school improvement related to the teaching and monitoring of Years 5-9 students’ reading and writing skills. The overarching question of the series is:

How do we know what we know about using data for reading and writing improvement in Years 5-9?

Facilitated by Professor Jim Nyland, Associate Vice-Chancellor (Qld), ACU

Differentiation to improve all Years 5-9 students’ reading and writing skills

Speaker 1: Professor Joy Cumming, Director, Assessment, Evaluation and Student Learning Research ILSTE, ACU

Speaker 2: Professor Michele Haynes, Director, Data Analytics in Education, ILSTE, ACU

The Melbourne Declaration of 2008 commits Australian schooling to twin goals of equity and excellence. The academic achievement of Australian Indigenous students — ‘closing the gap’ — is identified as an area of specific need. Equity of opportunity and outcomes are also noted for students from different language and cultural backgrounds  and students with disability.

Australia’s NAPLAN tests are used as the key outcome to explore Indigenous students’ progression in NAPLAN. NAPLAN outcomes are also examined for achievement for students with English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD). To date, no comparative NAPLAN analyses have been undertaken for students with disability while further work is undertaken on the nationally-consistent definition of disability.

In this seminar we first explore the nature of learning progression in Reading and Writing for all Australian students and specifically for students in these special cohorts: Indigenous students, students with English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD), and students with disability. We examine different frameworks for Reading and Writing across Years 3 to 9, drawing on the Australian Curriculum, the NAPLAN Reading and Writing tests, and commonly-used commercially-sourced tests of Reading used in many schools. These are examined for coherence and underpinning learning theories. We further examine the nature of differentiation provided within the progression frameworks for students from the special cohorts, and information on exemptions or available adjustments for students in the NAPLAN Reading and Writing tests.  These explorations are used to contextualise NAPLAN data analyses.

Multilevel analyses of progression for Queensland students using NAPLAN Reading and Writing outcomes across base years of testing, Year 3 and Year 5, will be discussed. These analyses compare progression for Indigenous students and students with EALD and progression for other students. Additional variables explored include school geolocation and student gender which highlight some interesting interactions. The analyses provide evidence of differential outcomes for students from the two different cohorts, even from the earliest years of schooling.


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