Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli today welcomed outstanding results from the NSW Government's $261 million Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan.
"This is wonderful news. Children in schools with a history of low performance are making remarkable progress in learning to read, write and count," Mr Piccoli said.
"Before the last election, the NSW Liberals & Nationals made a strong commitment to improving literacy and numeracy outcomes — because they are the fundamental bedrock for future learning," Mr Piccoli said.
"As a first step I asked Dr Ken Boston to chair a Ministerial Advisory Group on Literacy and Numeracy comprising experts in the field, including principals and teachers.
"The focus in targeted government, Catholic and independent schools — schools with a range of challenges and which have previously underperformed in literacy and numeracy — is now paying dividends for students, teachers and communities," Mr Piccoli said.
"Some of the results are very encouraging. Looking at the 59 public schools that started in the Action Plan in 2012, 93 per cent of Kindergarten children are on track to achieve end-of-year reading standards, this year — up from 75 per cent last year.
"And 97 per cent of Year 1 children are on track to meet or exceed the end-of-year standard in number — compared with only 65 per cent in 2012."
The Advisory Group has focused on what the evidence shows is effective in the improvement of literacy and numeracy outcomes for students in the early years: instructional leadership; diagnostic assessment; differentiated teaching; and intensive intervention programs for children at risk.
"Outstanding teachers have been engaged as Instructional Leaders in these schools with a clear brief — to develop the skills of K-2 teachers," Mr Piccoli said.
Instructional Leaders work directly with teachers in classrooms, building the capacity of staff to assess and monitor the progress of all of the Kindergarten to Year 2 (K-2) students in learning to read, write and develop number sense.
They also regularly meet and collaborate with K-2 teachers to solve problems and to plan appropriate teaching needed to shift all students' learning to the next level.
"Something is happening: the early evidence is greatly encouraging at this midway-point in the life of the five year Action Plan," said Dr Boston.
"The Action Plan is showing that local decision-making and investment in specified areas of school and classroom practice can produce real improvements in learning outcomes, in schools serving severely disadvantaged communities."