• Students' literacy, numeracy skills 'stagnating' as Indigenous NAPLAN results improve
This year's NAPLAN results show numeracy and literacy skills of high school students are stagnating, amid strong signs of improvement among Indigenous school children.
2 Dec 2015 - 7:36 PM  UPDATED 2 Dec 2015 - 8:00 PM

Numeracy and literacy skills of high school students are stagnating.

That's according to NAPLAN data released today,which shows writing skills for years 7 and 9 have deteriorated.

But, as Julia Calixto reports, it also shows strong signs of improvement among Indigenous students.

School lessons and class time can be tough when you're a student.

Thankfully, for some, the hard work appears to be paying off.

This year's National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy - also known as NAPLAN - has shown steady improvement among Indigenous students over the past seven years.

Kasey Taaffee, a primary school student at Chifley Public School in New South Wales, says her class is given literacy and numeracy homework every week.

"Well, every Friday we do our homework, like we mark it and everything and we do two comprehension reading cards and also part of our homework we have a maths plus book, like a unit a week."

Fellow student Cianna Walker says teachers at the school make their lessons fun.

"Yeah, I do enjoy school. My favourite subjects are writing and sport. For writing I guess, like I like making stories -- it's pretty fun."

At Chifley Public School, reading outcomes for year 3 and 5 students have improved since NAPLAN began seven years ago.

In fact, across the country, reading has improved for Indigenous students in years 5 and 7 by about 10 per cent over the same period.

Mathematics results have jumped, too, with a record 82.8 per cent of Indigenous year 9 students achieving or exceeding the national minimum standard.

The Minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, says there's still more work to be done.

"That modest improvement is good news. But there's a long long way to go and especially a long way to go to bridge the gap between indigenous students and the rest of Australia."

Chifley Public School Principal Louise Stone says new funding has enabled to them to lift results at the school - where one in every four students is Indigenous.

"So our school 4 days a week from 9 till 10 stops. The whole school does literacy. Whether you're a performing arts teacher, or whether you're a librarian, specialist, everybody is on class working with small literacy groups to ensure that everybody is getting their needs met, and we've also employed an Aboriginal Education Worker."

Kathryn Harris, Chifley Public School's Head of the Aboriginal Committee, says her work at the school is about getting the whole community involved in the students' education.

"I think just working as a community as well is really important. It's just not the school, it's the families, it's the students, it's the community all getting involved together and aiming high expections for all these students here at school."

According to the NAPLAN data, literacy and numeracy skills are stagnating among the vast majority of high school students.

Overall, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and New South Wales continue to outperform other states and territory, although Western Australia and Queensland have shown some improvements.

Rural students remain behind their counterparts in the major cities.