Contemporary resources, teacher professional learning and knowing every student personally. These are some of the elements which are helping Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) schools to excel – and their progress is earning them top outcomes.
This week, the nation’s NAPLAN test results were released with three Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong schools recognised as some of the state’s most improved performers - St Brigid’s, Gwynneville; St Clare’s, Narellan Vale and St Michael’s, Mittagong. These schools were identified to have shown 'substantially above average gain' in reading and/or numeracy achievement.
Every year, over one million students across Australia in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 sit the NAPLAN test. Students are assessed in the areas of reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.
St Brigid’s, Gwynneville successfully achieved substantially above average learning gains in both numeracy and reading.
Principal Kathy Uroda said that she and her teaching staff had ramped up their strategy to improve the pupils' reading and comprehension skills over the past 18 months. "We purchased quality literacy books and digital texts, and teachers did a lot of professional development sessions," Ms Uroda said. "We also eliminated interruptions during literacy sessions."
"The Catholic Education Office provided an instructional literacy coach to work with our teachers to help them plan their methods and this ensured they were all teaching in the same way.
"There is also a picture of every child on a data wall in the office and we move their faces around to show how they are progressing. If a student is not progressing, then we have a discussion as to why. Reading and comprehension are a key focus in our school."
Ms Uroda said teachers would continue to implement the new practices after seeing the impressive results.
The level of consistent improvement in Year 5 students in numeracy from their Year 3 NAPLAN results is excellent according to St Michael’s, Mittagong Principal, Kayleen Petzer.
“Both English and Mathematics have been priorities for a number of years and have been supported with extra resources including personnel,” she said. “Over the past few years we have implemented ‘Challenging Maths’ tasks throughout the school. This process focuses on problem solving and allows students time to think through the possibilities, rather than receiving immediate intervention from the teacher."
“In the classroom, they use ‘enabling prompts’ after students have been given thinking time. These prompts reduce the number of steps, simplify the complexity of the numbers, and vary the forms of representation for those students who cannot proceed with the task.
“At the other end of the scale, there are 'extending prompts' if a student completes the original task quickly. Students work independently, and then collaboratively, using a range of resources to further extend themselves,” said Mrs Petzer. “Teachers work in collaboration as a team, planning the tasks with support of personnel from the Catholic Education Office.”
To boost their marks, St Clare’s, Narellan Vale introduced a numeracy coach in 2014 who mentored teachers to share new approaches.
"The introduction of the numeracy coach was followed by whole staff professional learning on effective feedback and formative assessment strategies," said Principal, Marg Foldes. “As well as a focus on clearly defined learning intentions and co-constructed success criteria within lessons. This encourages explicit teaching of new concepts, effective grouping and intervention, and opportunities for consolidation and reflection.
“As a school community, we are proud to celebrate the 2018 Year 5 students’ significant growth in numeracy, as measured by NAPLAN testing."
The My School website is a resource for parents, educators and the community to find important information about each of Australia’s schools. My School is run by ACARA, an independent statutory authority responsible for collecting and reporting data on Australia’s schools, along with running NAPLAN (and other assessments) and developing the Australian Curriculum.
The 2019 My School update contains:
● 2018 NAPLAN results for schools;
● 2018 school profile and population data; and
● 2017 school financial information.
The latest NAPLAN results are good news for our Diocese, however parents shouldn’t feel under pressure to over-prepare their children for them. As the NAPLAN website states, a child will spend less than four hours, four times in a seven year school life completing NAPLAN. According to the testing body, ‘that’s a small investment given the important information that can be used to track a child’s progress in the important areas of literacy and numeracy’.
CEDoW extends our congratulations to the St Brigid’s, St Clare’s and St Michael’s school communities on their impressive achievements. Improvement in student literacy and/or numeracy of this magnitude, as measured by NAPLAN, is significant and worthy of acknowledging.
in the Media
Illawarra Mercury, 11 April 2019 – St Brigid's improve reading results in 2018 NAPLAN tests
Southern Highland News, 12 April 2019 – St Michael's continue to provide 'above average' NAPLAN results