Research on Indigenous Literacy - a snapshot

  • No matter how NAPLAN data is represented, research shows that Indigenous children in remote and very remote locations are being out-performed by non-Indigenous children and children living in urban locations. Statistics show that between 40 to 60 per cent of Indigenous children in very remote locations across WA, SA and NT achieve below minimum standard of reading in Year 3. 

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation's (ILF) approach to raising literacy levels starts at a community level. The focus is on early exposure to appropriate and quality books – through book supply – to homes and communities. 

The ILF support first language and culture, and work with community members to translate books into first language. ILF supports the writing and publishing of community stories. 

There are strengths and challenges in each community, but the ILF continues to build relationships and find new ways to support communities according to what they need. 

Closing the Gap report 2015

The results of the Australian Government's 2015 Closing the Gap report showed that: 

 • School attendance rates are as low as 14 per cent in very remote areas of Australia.

 • While there are hopes to halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy capabilities of Indigenous children by 2018, there is likely to be no overall improvement – unless these necessities are addressed. 

 • Reports showed no stastically significant improvement between 2008 and 2014 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at or above the National Minimal Standards and reading and numeracy across the eight measures. That is, in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in reading and numeracy. 

 • In 2014, only 34.9 per cent of Indigenous students in very remote areas met or exceeded the National Minimum Standards for Year 7 reading. Results for non-Indigenous students show less variation by area remoteness, but for Indigenous students the gap is much wider in very remote areas than it is in metropolitan areas.

 • About 70 per cent of Indigenous students achieved the Year 5 national minimum standards in reading and numeracy. There were significant declines in some states across some year levels. The Northern Territory has the lowest proportion of children achieving minimum standards.

Naplan test 2014 

The 2014 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) report results showed that:

 • Only two in 10 children in very remote parts of the NT are achieving at or above the minimum standard for reading in Year 3. This drops to only one in 10 by the time a child reaches Year 9.

 • More than half (57 per cent) of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 3 in achieved below the national minimum standard in numeracy

 • More than 65 per cent of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 3 achieved below the national minimum standard in reading, persuasive writing, spelling, and grammar and punctuation.

 • More than 75 per cent of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 5 achieved below the national minimum standard in persuasive writing

 • More than 60% of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 5 achieved below the national minimum standard in reading, numeracy, spelling, and grammar and punctuation.

OECD PISA report 2012

 The OECD’s 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results show:

• There is about 2 and a half year gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous literacy rates in Australia.

Further Research:

 • Only 24 per cent of people in remote communities have a school that goes up to Year 12. 

 • Just 29 per cent of remote communities have a school that goes up to Year 10.

• Less than 36 per cent of people in remote communities have access to a library 

 

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