Tackling literacy inconsistency in Australian students

Feb 25, 2019 by

By Thuy Pham –

In over 18 years of educating students, I have met students at almost every imaginable level of literacy, from a man in his 20s who could only read at a grade one level, to a grade two student who was capable of doing year six English.

Overall, there is a significant disparity in Australia between those who have access to a high quality education, and those who do not.
Overall, there is a significant disparity in Australia between those who have access to a high quality education, and those who do not. Credit:SHUTTERSTOCK

There are countless students from migrant families who struggle to keep up with English as their second language. There are Australian-born students who don’t receive the time and attention they need for a consistent approach to learning that matches their level of ability because their schools are not capable of providing it since they are already operating beyond capacity.

If these experiences have taught me anything, it is that there is a shocking inconsistency in the literacy skills of Australian students.

According to a new report released by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), only 82 per cent of year 10 students reached the international baseline level for reading in 2015, compared with 86 per cent of students in 2006.

Spectrum Tuition founder Thuy Pham.
Spectrum Tuition founder Thuy Pham.

This decline could be due to the fragmented Australian education system, where the onus is largely on individual teachers to design and set the program for their students. Without more standardised resources to work with, teachers are often burdened with the task of reinventing the wheel each year, developing lessons, marking work and tending to the emotional wellbeing of students. With this pressure, it is no wonder up to half of all Australian teachers quit the profession in the first five years, leading to a shortage of qualified and experienced teachers.

Overall, there is a significant disparity in Australia between those who have access to a high-quality education, and those who do not. Further, poor literacy often leads to poor employment prospects, and impacts students’ emotional and social wellbeing later in life.

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