A report released from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has revealed that approximately twenty percent of children who start school have a speech, language or communication problem that impacts their ability to participate and achieve in school.
The results of the 2018 study were released earlier this month and show that 41 percent of Australia’s 15-year olds failed to meet the minimum national standards in reading. This has increased from 31 percent in the 2000 report.
Not being able to participate in school can result in poor educational outcomes, reduced job prospects, and mental health issues in the longer-term.
Undertaken every three years, the PISA report looks at the math, reading and science skills of 600,000 15-year olds from 79 nations. In Australia, 740 schools and more than 14,000 students were assessed, and the report indicates their performance in those subjects is in a long-term decline.
National President of Speech Pathology Australia, the national peak body representing more than 9,500 speech pathologists, Tim Kittel says the outcomes are “no surprise… Australia has slipped dramatically in world rankings for reading and literacy.”
“In 2017, Speech Pathology Australia welcomed the recommendation from the Federal Government’s Expert Panel for the national rollout of a new phonics and numeracy test for all Year 1 students… We urgently need to move forward on [introducing] this test. It needs to be universal across the country.”
Phonics is a method used to teach children to read by learning the way letters sound.
Speech pathologists have knowledge of, and expertise in improving phonological awareness (including phonemic awareness) and how this relates to the teaching of phonics and literacy.
Mr Kittle says “A speech pathologist in every primary school would provide meaningful assistance [as they] are an essential part of the educational team”.
“They work alongside teachers to implement effective teaching practices to support literacy and language development for students with identified needs”.
Mr Kittle also added that “we need to create a learning environment that maximises the educational outcomes for developmentally and socially vulnerable children, and provide children who have clear needs with appropriate intervention”.
To read the full report click here