Literacy rewards in doubt

Government scheme to lift literacy and numeracy rates ‘yet to make a statistically significant improvement,’ audit finds.A $540 MILLION government scheme to lift numeracy and literacy rates has made no discernible difference to the performance of schools taking part, an audit has found.

The Australian National Audit Office said yesterday the success of the scheme, which has so far delivered $322 million in reward payments to the states and territories, had been ”mixed”.

When the then-Rudd government introduced Literacy and Numeracy National Partnerships in 2008, it was one of the first times the government had tied performance targets to financial incentives. But Auditor-General Ian McPhee said in his report, it was far from clear that the money had been well spent, and there was no evidence the money had lifted students’ scores in NAPLAN testing.

He wrote that analysis of NAPLAN data indicated the literacy and numeracy program ”is yet to make a statistically significant improvement, in any state”. Schools receiving funds were compared to those that did not. And he wrote that states had been paid bonuses before demonstrating that student performances had improved.

Across Australia, about 10 per cent of government and non-government schools – some 1050 in total – took part.

Education Minister Peter Garrett and the Australian Education Union yesterday defended the programs, insisting they had brought positive effects.

Mr Garrett’s spokeswoman said it could take several years for the effects to be felt.

But opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said continuing to fund a program that failed to produce identifiable results was, ”a terrible indictment on Labor’s education credentials”.

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