News National ‘Huge wake-up call’ of PISA school results reignites ‘back to basics’ rhetoric

‘Huge wake-up call’ of PISA school results reignites ‘back to basics’ rhetoric

Australian school children are falling behind their Asian counterparts in various subjects. Photo: Getty
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Australia’s schools have recorded the worst results in reading, maths, and science on record, with children three years behind students in Singapore in mathematics.

The shock findings of the internationally respected Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is likely to reignite the debate Australia is throwing good money after bad when politicians promise to spend more on schools.

New South Wales recorded the biggest fall in the PISA tests, which are held every three years across Australia and then compared with international results.

But rather than students here going backward, the issue is students overseas are improving their results while Australia is stagnating.

Education Minister Dan Tehan on Tuesday night urged the states to get “back to basics” on literacy and numeracy.

“Australia should be a leader in school education. Our students should be ranked among the best in the world,” Mr Tehan said.

“We should not accept anything less. The time has come for us to change direction.

“My message to the state and territory education ministers is this: Leave the teachers union talking points at home and be ambitious.

“We have a clear road map to implement the reforms that will improve student outcomes and we should be bold and decisive.

“The Gonski review said prioritise the implementation of learning progressions for literacy and numeracy during the early years of schooling to ensure the core foundations for learning are developed by all children by the age of eight.”

But the ‘back to basics’ rhetoric is the same language that former prime minister Julia Gillard used when she announced a massive injection of funds under her Gonski reforms that appear to have done little to arrest a decline in standards.

Labor’s education spokesman Tanya Plibersek said the results should be a “huge wake-up call”.

“Our schoolkids are now around a year behind in these basic subjects, according to data from the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment,” Ms Plibersek said.

“For the first time ever, Australia’s performance in maths is no better than the global average.

“Australia has fallen behind the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, and Estonia.

“This should be a huge wake-up call for Scott Morrison and the Liberals, who’ve seen school test scores plummet on their watch.”

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