Friday, 25 Feb 2000

Dr Geoff Masters, Executive Director of ACER, has released the following clarification of comments attributed to him in the Australian newspaper on 25 February 2000. Dr Masters said that, contrary to the report in today’s Australian, he had not said or implied that some education systems were making their literacy tests easier in an effort to increase the percentage of students performing at benchmark level. "My observation was that some literacy tests have been adjusted by including a greater proportion of items at benchmark level. This is to provide more accurate information about the percentage of students achieving the benchmark," Dr Masters said. "Including a greater proportion of items at benchmark level will not mean that more students meet the benchmark." Dr Masters said that he strongly supported the initiative to establish clear standards of achievement in reading and writing that all students should be expected to reach by the end of Year 3 and Year 5. "The target we have set ourselves of bringing all students up to these minimally acceptable standards of reading and writing competence is an enormous challenge. Minimum standards establish a basis on which excellence can be pursued. For this reason it is important that literacy tests also continue to model excellence and to challenge and extend higher achieving students."