Insight/ documentation in regard to international reading, maths and science tests conducted in 2011

Madeleine Wilson made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Education

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From: Madeleine Wilson


Dear Department of Education,

I write to you under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 pursuing;

Insight/relevant documentation in regard to the international reading, maths and science tests conducted in 2011 at a primary school level, revealing that Australian children were beaten by students from twenty-six other countries. In the article "Australia's disaster in education" published on the 11th of December 2012 by 'The Sydney Morning Herald' it claims that Prime Minster at the time Julia Gillard had aimed to have 'one of the top five schooling systems in the world by 2025'.

Have there been any changes to the curriculum in response to the tests conducted in 2011? If so what changes have been made to the curriculum between 2011-present to ensure a quality education for Australian children?

Has there been a significant difference between results from 2011-present? (please provide documentation, reports, averages between students around the world)

What plans/goals has the department implemented for the future of Australian Education? How will you ensure a growing success rate of Australia children in their studies?

Yours faithfully,

Madeleine Wilson

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From: Education - FOI
Department of Education

Dear Ms Wilson,


Thank you for your below request to the Department of Education and
Training (the department).

It appears that you are seeking to make a request under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).


Your request does not provide sufficient information to identify documents


For your information, the FOI Act provides an individual with a right to
obtain access to documents held by an agency, rather than to information. 
Given that in your email you have asked for answers to questions rather
than describing documents to which you seek access, the department is
unable to process your request. On this basis, we are writing to inform
you of our intention to refuse your request as your request does not
provide sufficient information for us to identify specific documents (a
practical refusal reason under section 24AA(1)(b) of the FOI Act.

However, before making a decision to refuse your request, the FOI Act
provides an avenue by which we are able to assist you to revise the scope
of your request so that the practical refusal reason no longer exists.
This is known as a consultation period. The consultation period gives you
14 days to contact us revise your request so that the practical refusal
reason no longer exists – i.e. provide sufficient information concerning a
document so that relevant documents can be identified. You may also decide
to withdraw your request. If you do not contact the department within this
14 day consultation period, i.e. if you do not contact us by 11 March 2016
- your FOI request will be taken to have been withdrawn (s 24AB(7) of the
FOI Act).


To contact the department, please contact Kirsten Burns on (02) 6240 6827
or at [1][email address].


Information about the subject matter of your request


To assist you, you may also like to consider the following general
information about the subject matter of your request. The test you refer
to in your request is called the Progress in International Reading
Literacy Study (PIRLS), and is a five-yearly international sample
assessment of Year 4 student achievement in reading literacy administered
by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational
Achievement (IEA). It has a curriculum focus and considers the purposes of
reading, comprehension, and reading behaviours and attitudes of Year 4
students. PIRLS 2011 was the first time Australia participated in the
assessment. The PIRLS 2011 national report (report), available at
[2], provides further information on the assessment.


Results from PIRLS 2011 shows that, on average, Australian Year 4 students
achieve between the Intermediate and High international benchmarks in
reading literacy. From the 45 countries participating in the assessment,
Australia was ranked 26, and was statistically significantly outperformed
by 21 other countries. Australia performed at the same level as New
Zealand and significantly outperformed 17 other countries.


The implementation and delivery of PIRLS 2011 was managed by the
Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER), though a funding
agreement with the Department of Education and Training. ACER was
responsible for the implementation of the assessment including drawing a
representative sample of students, conducting a field trial and main
study, providing data and results to the IEA, and the preparation of the
national report (released in December 2012).


In recognition of the value of collecting longitudinal data to benchmark
the reading performance of Australian primary school students against
students from other countries, Education Ministers agreed to Australia’s
participation in PIRLS 2016. The department anticipates that the national
report for PIRLS 2016 will be released in December 2017.


As you may be aware, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting
Authority (ACARA) has responsibility for the national curriculum from
Kindergarten to Year 12 in specified learning areas. ACARA is best placed
to provide information on the changes to the Australian Curriculum since
2011 and they can be contacted at [3][email address].


In response to your questions related to the education policies of the
department, these are best addressed through the usual department
communications process and we ask that you direct your queries to the
online enquiry form at [4]


If you have any questions in relation to this matter, please send your
query to [5][email address]. 


Kind regards,


Kirsten Burns

Senior Government Lawyer

Corporate Legal Team | Schools, Child Care and Corporate Legal Branch
People, Communication and Legal Group
Australian Government Department of Education and Training
Phone (02) 6121 5966


Please note I work part time, I do not work Mondays

Opportunity through learning






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