Schools in Australia and NAPLAN

I have written quite a few posts about schools and education in Australia here on

Like these…..

But none have caused as big a stir as my post from the beginning of March 2010 called Australian Education Standards Compared to the UK and USA.

In that post I looked at a couple of organisations, TIMMS and PISA, who spend their time assessing the quality of education in various countries before presenting the results in league table form.

Since that post there have been no further updates from TIMMS, but PISA, who update their findings every three years, have had their 2009 results out for a while.

Now, the reason the original post caused such a stir is that the PISA results suggest that the Australian educational standards are higher than those of the UK and the USA. You only need to read the comments on that post to see how controversial that idea is.

Time to ruffle a few more feathers.

Here are the latest results:


  •     Finland: 554 points: Top
  •     Australia: 527 points: 7th.
  •     UK: 514: 11th
  •     USA: 502: 17th.


  •     Korea: 546 points: Top.
  •     Australia: 514 points: 9th.
  •     UK: 492: 22th
  •     USA: 487: 25th


  •     Korea: 539 points: Top
  •     Australia: 515 points: 6th.
  •     USA: 500 points: 14th
  •     UK: 494: 20th

Source: PISA

Here’s a quick summary of those results compared to how they were in my last post, which was based on 2006 findings.


Australia has continued to achieve better results in all three subjects when compared to the UK and USA.

In science, they scored the same number of points, but went up one position to 7th from 8th last year. In maths they scored six points fewer, but still managed to go up to 9th position from 14th last time. And in reading, they are now one position higher and have two points more than they did in 2006.


An extra point in science has taken the UK up to 11 from 14th last year and three extra points in maths takes them two positions higher from last year’s 24th. But in reading they have dropped one point this year and slipped three positions from last year’s 17th place.


The USA have scored a massive 13 extra points in both science and mathematics this year, raising them 12 positions from last year’s 29th and 10 positions to 25th respectively. I could not find any information about the USA’s 2006 reading assessment, so I can’t tell you if they have improved or not.

Overall though, good onya USA, much better!

So, why have I decided to talk about this again today?


Two weeks ago my daughter, Elizabeth, started year three at school. And with year three starts NAPLAN, the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy.

What is NAPLAN?

As they say on the website, it’s “an annual assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It tests the types of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life, in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy. The assessments are undertaken nationwide, every year in the second full week in May.

Why does Australia have NAPLAN?

I’m not sure of all the reasons, but here’s one of them. So that Australia can participate in international assessments by TIMMS and PISA.

See how it all fits into place?

Elizabeth has already been given homework tasks in preparation of the tests which will take place between May 15 and 18th. We have been asked to make every effort to ensure that our child is able to attend on these days.

Even if we are travelling, arrangements can be made for our daughter to attend a local state school to take the tests.

I don’t suppose that covers Thailand though, does it?

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