Data reveals Australia's education ranking

Tasmanian education figures have shown improvement amid stagnant national results, a report from the Australian Council for Educational Research has revealed.

ACER data shows the mathematics and science achievements of students in grade four and eight flatlined over the past 20 years while in many countries the figure had improved. 

The findings, based on research from the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMS), showed between one-quarter and one-third of grade four students did not achieve the national proficient standard to apply basic mathematical and scientific knowledge in simple situations.

Students in grade eight also struggled to apply basic mathematical and scientific knowledge in a variety of situations.

ACER Director of Educational Monitoring and Research Dr Sue Thomson said the figures should serve as a wake-up call. 

She said high-performing countries including Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan had made steady improvements while Australia fell behind. 

"ACER’s report reveals that, relative to other countries, we are actually slipping backwards," Dr Thomson said.

“A substantial proportion of our students are below the Australian proficient standard, with roughly half of students in remote areas at or below that level – clearly, we have a problem."

Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said while national figures were dropping, Tasmania had shown improvement. 

He said the report showed the state’s grade four students were ranked third in Australia for science and fourth in Australia for maths.

“Tasmania’s Year 8 TIMSS results in maths and science have improved compared to our 2011 results and are comparable to states such as WA, SA and NSW, however further improvement is needed,” Mr Rockliff said.

“Literacy and numeracy coaches are now working collaboratively with teachers and principals in targeted schools to extend teaching and learning strategies.” 

Mr Rockliff said the results consolidate preliminary NAPLAN findings released in August, and showed the state government was on track to achieve a goal of Tasmania being at or above national average within the first six years of a Liberal government. 

He said continuing to lift educational standards would remain a key priority. 

“Continuing to lift education standards including improving literacy, numeracy and science, is one of our Government’s key goals and priorities,” Mr Rockliff said. 

“Our Learning in Families Together program, which supports 80 schools with the highest student need and implementation of the national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics School Education Strategy 2016-2026, are all targeted at improving educational outcomes.”