High School Students Sitting Exam
High School Students Sitting Exam Fuse

Big tick for our high schools

RESULTS from the 2014 NAPLAN exams indicate Tweed Shire's largest state high schools have improved their academic performance on last year's results.

The exam was held in May, and this week some schools shared a breakdown of their recent results with the Tweed Daily News.

Murwillumbah High School had a significant improvement in the categories of numeracy and literacy this year.

According to principal Warrick Simmons, most students showed a growth of 50 points above the state average since 2013.

He attributed the improvement and the positive results to a program that targets comprehension skills.

"This has not only contributed to excellent results in literacy, but also in numeracy, because of the students' improved ability to understand the questions in the exams," he said.

"Some students reported that they found the questions difficult, but that is the case every year."

At Banora Point High School, grammar and punctuation were the strongest areas of performance in Year 7, with a significantly larger percentage of students at proficient level than in the past.

But spelling needed work, according to principal Greg Smith.

"Our analysis has indicated that spelling is a key area of focus for this cohort," Mr Smith said.

"Year 9 numeracy showed an increase in growth, with girls showing the highest growth data.

"A focus for 2015 will be improving numeracy results for Aboriginal students."

Tweed River High has had a general shift upwards in achievement in bands from 2013 to 2014 in Years 7 and 9 numeracy and a significant decrease in Year 9 students in the low bands in Year 9 numeracy.

Head teacher Kim Taylor said improvement was due to the Improving Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership program, which targets those students falling behind and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

"While overall improvement is a long-term goal, recent results are encouraging," she said.

Kingscliff High School did not have a spokesperson available for comment.

What is NAPLAN?

NAPLAN stands for the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy, and it's for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority runs NAPLAN and is currently studying ways the test can be delivered online by 2017.

This year, the test was criticised for a question in its writing exam that prompted primary students to use persuasive writing skills to answer: "Which law or rule would you make better in your view?"

This dropped national mean scores in this year's writing, for which ACARA took responsibility.

Although the tests provide schools with data to address weaknesses, NAPLAN has been widely criticised by some educators for publishing averages, which do not reflect individual students fairly.

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