'Wake-up call': One in four boys falling short of NAPLAN minimum standard

Nearly 25 per cent of year 9 boys across Australia are not meeting the national minimum standard in writing, with Education Minister Simon Birmingham warning the latest NAPLAN results should be a "wake-up call" for educators.

The proportion of students meeting national minimum standards in each of the five domains of reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy has flatlined or declined across most year groups since last year, the full breakdown of 2017 NAPLAN results, released on Wednesday, reveals.

The literacy results for year 9 students are among the most concerning, with 24.6 per cent of boys and 18.4 per cent of all students failing to meet the band 6 national minimum standard in this year's writing test, which students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 sat in May.

This represents a slide in results since last year, when 23.1 per cent of boys and 17.1 per cent of all year 9 students failed to meet the national minimum standard in writing.

"We know how vital literacy skills are to setting students up for life beyond school, so the decline in writing scores and the flatlining of reading results should act as a wake-up call that some changes are required," Mr Birmingham said.

"It's concerning to see the proportion of students achieving the National Minimum Standard [across all domains] has slipped from 93 per cent in 2016 to 92.6 per cent this year."

Year 9 students in NSW bucked the trend in writing, with a slight fall in the percentage of students who did not meet the national minimum standard. It dropped from 17.8 per cent last year to 16.3 per cent this year.

However, a significant number of year 7 students in NSW and across the country failed to meet the band 5 minimum standard for writing this year, with 12.1 per cent of all students getting below the standard, compared to 10.3 per cent of students last year.

Year 7 boys are performing especially poorly, with 17 per cent across the country and 15.4 per cent in NSW failing to meet the minimum standard in writing, compared to 7 per cent of year 7 girls across Australia and 6 per cent in NSW.

Boys performed worse than girls in all domains across all year groups in NSW and nationally.

Indigenous students are also well behind their non-Indigenous peers and students from regional and remote areas continue to do worse than students in metropolitan schools, the results show.

"It just tells of ongoing patterns of inequality that have been there since the first NAPLAN test and are still there," senior lecturer in education policy at the University of Western Australia Glenn Savage said.

"Ideally all young people would meet the minimum standards. You're never going to get 100 per cent across all groups but we don't want to be going backwards..

"We really need to use this data to inform interventions and investments."

The national minimum standards have been set at band 6 for year 9 students, band 5 for year 7, band 4 for year 5 and band 2 for year 3.

However, the NSW government also introduced its own minimum literacy and numeracy standards for year 9 students this year, and announced that students who fail to reach a band 8 in the reading, writing and numeracy components of NAPLAN will now have to pass extra online exams to be eligible to get their HSC.

Nearly 70 per cent of year 9 students in NSW will have to sit at least one additional test before they are able to get their HSC, based on the latest NAPLAN results.

This story 'Wake-up call': One in four boys falling short of NAPLAN minimum standard first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.