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Peter Garrett: encouraging signs (a Kiwi perspective)

By Kelvin Smythe - posted Monday, 27 August 2012

The plot and main characters

In Australia, in 2008, NAPLAN (National Assessment Programme – Literacy and Numeracy) began in Australian schools. Every year, all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are assessed on the same days using national tests in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar, and punctuation), and numeracy.

Targets were set for states and financial rewards for states that did well.


The scheme had its beginnings in a Julia Gillard meeting with Joe Klein in New York. Joe Klein is an academic corporate entrepreneur who sets up such plans round the world under the auspices of News World and Rupert Murdoch.

So far the national testing plan has cost nearly $(NZ)750 million, including $(NZ)400 million being paid to the states in rewards.

In 2011, the auditor-general of the Australian National Audit Office undertook an audit into the effectiveness of the plan.

The narrative

On Monday, 23 January, 2012 Peter Garrett, minister for school education, timed a media statement release in anticipation of the auditor-general's report.

Garrett said he 'welcomed the results of the final NAPLAN 2011 report, which reveals that more than 93 per cent of Australian school students are achieving at or above the national minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy.'


Is that good or not? Pete seemed pleased with it. Let's see what he goes on to say.

'The report shows that while overall results have remained steady since the first NAPLAN tests were held in 2008, there have been encouraging signs of student improvement in many year groups.'

'Results remained steady': is that good? If they were on a steady upward trajectory, I suppose that would be good.

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About the Author

Kelvin Smythe was a New Zealand primary school teacher, principal, university lecturer, and senior inspector of schools.
He has written various publications and articles on social studies promoting the idea of the ‘feeling for’ approach to social studies.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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