October 18, 2021, Principal

Literary crisis or opportunity for improvement?

In a world increasingly dominated by short text messages and emails, the standard of writing in Australian schools has been falling short. Whilst some experts say it is the result of the digital first world we live in and pitfalls in the Australian curriculum, others say it’s purely down to lack of practice and dedicated writing programs. 

Whilst the students at TAS have always tested above the National mean in their writing, grammar, and punctuation, I have received a couple of questions from parents and other schools since this article appeared in the Cairns Post and Courier Mail. How elite QLD schools use $100k program to lift NAPLAN results | The Courier Mail (Note – it doesn’t cost $100,000!) 

At TAS, through our PAT testing program, we have a variety of data sources available to us about how each student and cohort is progressing. Whilst we already had a strong analytical writing program, our students were testing above the National mean and our teachers were doing a fantastic job, we saw an opportunity for improvement and a program was sought that was practical, easily implemented, not based on ideology or fads and a framework that aligned with our pedagogies in the best possible way. “Write That Essay” ticked those boxes. 

TAS introduced the program immediately, our teachers embraced the training (not just English teachers), and we monitored progress internally as the rollout took place. The results have been very positive. The most recent NAPLAN results allow us to compare student gain from 2019 to 2021 (NB: there was no NAPLAN held in 2020 due to COVID). The graphs below show the cohort of students in Year 7 in 2019 moving through to Year 9 in 2021. 

There is a lot written about organisations seeking continuous improvement in what they do. With the data available to schools, that provides visibility of how their students are progressing, it would be a missed opportunity if it wasn’t used for program improvement. At TAS our teaching staff are committed to constantly improving student outcomes and, based on the success we have seen, we will continue to use data to help provide the best possible programs and pedagogies for our students. 


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