Though just 58 per cent of Year 6 students and 50 per cent of Year 10 students achieved the proficient standard in Science, according to the newly released NAP Science Literacy report, there are signs that students’ scientific understanding is improving.
The latest National Assessment Program (NAP) Science Literacy report examines students’ skills and understanding of scientific concepts. The results released on 27 February 2020 is from testing that took place in October and November 2018. A total of 5551 Year 6 students from 343 schools and 3032 Year 10 students from 202 schools took part. This was also the first time Year 10 students took part in the testing.
While just over half of Year 6 students achieved the proficient standard in Science, these are the best results achieved since the sample assessments began in 2003.
NAP Science Literacy testing takes place every three years. In 2012, 51 per cent of Year 6 students achieved the proficient standard, in 2015 this rose to 55 per cent and now 2018 results place 28 per cent at the proficient standard.
The percentage of Year 6 Indigenous students attaining the proficient standard (35 per cent) was also higher than results from 2015, 2012 and 2009, showing a big leap from 2015 results, where just 23 per cent achieved the proficient standard.
“These results indicate that something appears to be working well in primary schools and teaching Year 6 science literacy. These improving Year 6 results bode well for our future performance in PISA,” said ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho.
Science literacy results are reported on a single scale, with two ‘proficiency standards’: one for Year 6 and one for Year 10. The proficiency standards are the points on that scale, which represent a ‘challenging but reasonable’ expectation of student achievement for Years 6 and 10.
As this is the first time Year 10 students have been tested on their scientific understanding, comparisons with previous years cannot be made.
For both Year 6 and Year 10, results between male and female students were not significantly different.
The latest results show that for the first time, Year 6 students who speak English at home had a significantly higher average scale score (411) than students who speak a language other than English at home (398). In previous cycles, the differences between the average scale scores were not statistically significant.
The pattern of results also indicates that Year 6 students attending schools in major cities perform significantly better than students attending schools in all other geographic locations. Year 10 students from major cities also perform significantly better than students from both remote and very remote areas.
Since 2009, students have also been required to complete a survey along with the assessment. The survey canvassed students’ perceptions and attitudes towards science, with questions about their science-learning experiences at school.
Over 85 per cent of Year 6 students responded that they would like to learn more science at school, and 65 per cent of Year 6 students indicated they believed it would be interesting to be a scientist.
More than 80 per cent of Year 6 and 10 students also acknowledged that science is important for many jobs and for helping people to make informed decisions.
To view the full report, please click here.