READING SKILLS: The Year 3 students at Riverside Christian College who recently took part in the NAPLAN tests for the first time.
READING SKILLS: The Year 3 students at Riverside Christian College who recently took part in the NAPLAN tests for the first time. Carlie Walker

The Fraser Coast schools topping the class in results

THE Fraser Coast's top schools are consistently performing above the national average in NAPLAN testing.

An analysis of data by the Chronicle revealed several of the region's schools, including Fraser Coast Anglican College, Agnew School, St Mary's Catholic College and Primary School and Parke State School, recorded strong scores when compared to the national and state averages.

Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School also posted outstanding results by their Year 3 students in reading and writing, while St Helens State School was above the national average in Year 5 spelling and grammar.

Joe Wright, deputy principal at Hervey Bay's Fraser Coast Anglican College, said the school had performed strongly in NAPLAN this year and he was especially pleased with the results achieved by the school's Year 7 students.

"It's independent and benchmarked against the whole country, not just the kids at your school, and FCAC consistently gets over the national average,” Mr Wright said.

"The independent data is another piece of information, it's another piece of the puzzle.”

Fraser Coast Anglican College recorded results above the national average in 18 of the 20 categories across all four year levels.

Fraser Coast Anglican College Yr 7 students (from left): Zac Tyson, Kayne Goodluck, Declan Lyttle, Lian Horton, Vada Thaggard, and Stephanie Wright.
Fraser Coast Anglican College Yr 7 students (from left): Zac Tyson, Kayne Goodluck, Declan Lyttle, Lian Horton, Vada Thaggard, and Stephanie Wright. Matthew McInerney

While NAPLAN provides important information for parents and schools, Mr Wright said parents who were deciding on schools for their children shouldn't decide based on NAPLAN results.

He said a holistic approach to education was important rather than raw data.

Stuart Taylor, assistant principal at Riverside Christian College, said students were always a bit nervous ahead of the NAPLAN tests.

He said the parents of some of the Year 9 students at the school elected to withdraw their children from the tests this year because of the stress around external exams.

He said that was part of a trend in Queensland, with the state recording the highest rate of students opting out of sitting the exam in Australia.

"I certainly understand where the parents are coming from and in the bigger picture Australia-wide, NAPLAN turned 10 this year and there's been no significant change Australia-wide in the scores, so you wonder why we sort of persist with this kind of testing,” Mr Taylor said.

"The improvement Queensland has seen is a result of improved teaching practices across Queensland and the Australian curriculum coming in, it's not been related to NAPLAN at all.”

Mr Taylor said despite that he was pleased with his school's NAPLAN results and the improvement in student performance he had seen over the past three to four years.

"We've been undergoing a reform of how we go about teaching,” he said.

"We're pleased with the trend, but certainly we aim a lot higher than what we are now.”

Mr Taylor urged parents not to rely solely on NAPLAN results.

"NAPLAN is a very poor snapshot of what a school is like and a very poor snapshot of what a child's learning ability is,” he said.

He said there had been concerns parents would use the MySchool website to compare schools, but he found that in regional areas parents made decisions based on the institution's reputation and feedback from other parents.

Stephen Vincent, the North Coast's assistant regional director for education and training, said the results had exceeded the regional targets.

For the North Coast, 92% of students were above the national minimum standard in reading and more than 94% of students were above the national minimum standard in numeracy.

Mr Vincent told the Chronicle Queensland was continuing to improve in terms of NAPLAN results and was being noticed on a national level.



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