• Indigenous students are among those making the best gains in NAPLAN results over the past decade. (Getty Images )Source: Getty Images
In the past decade Indigenous kids have been among the students making the best gains in NAPLAN testing, but there is still room for improvement.
25 Feb 2020 - 1:23 PM  UPDATED 25 Feb 2020 - 1:23 PM

While school students across the board are making improvements in NAPLAN test scores since 2008, according to the latest data, it is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are making some of the best gains in their test results.

The National NAPLAN report, released on Tuesday, shows how students fared in last year's tests depending on year level, gender, socio-economic background, school location and language background.

Since 2008, Indigenous students have improved significantly in reading (Years 3, 5 and 7), spelling (Years 3 and 5), grammar and punctuation (Years 3 and 7), numeracy (Years 5 and 9) and writing (Year 3).

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive David de Carvalho said although there's still room for improvement among Indigenous students, he's pleased with the gains being made.

"There was a lot of reporting last week around the Close the Gap report, indicating a sense of disappointment with where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have got to," he said.

"But on the bright side we need to look at how much improvement has actually been made over the last 10 years and we've been able to capture that through NAPLAN reporting."

"The rate of improvement shown by Indigenous students, particularly at the primary school level, is almost double in some cases the rate of improvement shown by non-Indigenous students in various domains. 

So while there is a lot of room for improvement, we shouldn't be too gloomy, there's a lot of good work going on in schools and Indigenous communities around the country making good gains."

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Mr de Carvalho said for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students the improvements are not as pronounced for older students - in years 7 and 9 - as they are for primary students.

He said further research is needed into what can be done to increase the rate of improvement even more for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

"Across the board, not just in Indigenous [students] but in the general population the rate of improvement across all domains is certainly larger in the younger years, in the primary years," Mr de Carvalho said.

"So Year 3 is showing the biggest gains over the last 10 years, Year 5 the second largest and when you get into secondary school, the gains are still there, but they're not as pronounced.

"But it's a trend that is not unique to Australia, this is a worldwide trend in terms of middle schooling years and it's something certainly if we can do more to engage students with their learning in those years, hopefully we would see results improve."

The performance of Australian Indigenous students in Years 3 and 9 writing was significantly above the NAPLAN 
2018 average. The rate of improvement in results for Indigenous students is almost twice the rate of improvement for the general population. 

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