The 2015 NAPLAN National Report released today shows while there are some areas of improvement in student literacy and numeracy outcomes we can and must do better.

The Turnbull Government is committed to improving the literacy and numeracy outcomes for school students throughout Australia. Without these key foundation skills students face challenges in successfully progressing through school and through life.

There has also been steady improvement in the achievement of Indigenous students in some areas. While this is positive, there continues to be a substantial gap in literacy and numeracy levels between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

If we are to close the gap in Indigenous education outcomes we must continue to focus on delivering quality education and improving access and attendance rates. Evidence also indicates that explicit teaching methods are particularly beneficial in schools where student achievement is poor.

We need literacy and numeracy results to lift across all student levels. The Turnbull Government is investing a record $69.5 billion over the four years to 2018 19 — a 27.9 per cent increase across all schools from 2014-15.

Yet while funding matters, what we do with that funding matters even more. Every available dollar needs to be used to the best possible effect, and in the best interest of students and their educational outcomes.

Quality education relies upon quality teaching. Through our Students First policy, the Turnbull Government has introduced measures to improve teacher quality, including through the introduction of a national Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students from 1 July 2016.

This new test will provide a nationally consistent measure for graduating initial teacher education students to ensure they are within the top 30 per cent of the adult population for personal literacy and numeracy.

The Turnbull Government also continues to invest in a range of measures aimed at lifting outcomes for Indigenous students, including funding for the Flexible Literacy for remote Schools Programme.

The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring that parents and school communities have access to accurate information on student outcomes and is also working with key stakeholders on strategies to help parents better engage with their child’s education, as well as the rollout of the new national curriculum next year.

We are also working with states and territories and non-government education authorities to move national assessments, including NAPLAN to online delivery.

Online delivery of NAPLAN will provide benefits to schools, teachers and parents including faster turnaround time of results, and better diagnostics of students’ performance, both of which will enhance the usefulness of NAPLAN to parents.

I am pleased there were fewer incidents of cheating and security breaches this year than in 2014. However, any incident of cheating is disappointing and unacceptable.

I expect states, territories and non-government school authorities to swiftly deal with any incidents of cheating. The online delivery of NAPLAN should reduce this risk in the future.

I look forward to speaking with my state and territory colleagues at Education Council next week to discuss these matters further.

Senator Birmingham’s media contact: James Murphy 0478 333 974
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