Reading comprehension and numeracy among junior secondary school students in Australia.
Longitudinal surveys of Australian youth research report ; n.3
This report examines the performance, and levels of mastery, on tests of reading comprehension and numeracy of Australian students in junior secondary school between 1975 and 1995. Data for the analyses reported were drawn from two national monitoring studies and other studies of representative samples of junior secondary school students designed to monitor the progress of young people through school into further education, training and work. In each of the studies students completed tests that are similar to those conducted in the Australian states and territories and overseas to monitor student performance. The tests focussed on reading skills (which correlate highly with other aspects of literacy) and numeracy. Although both the reading and numeracy tests were not identical over time they included a substantial number of common items. The existence of common items allowed the construction of single measures of achievement in reading and numeracy. In addition to reporting average levels of achievement on these two scales, the concept of mastery developed for the 1975 study was applied at later points in time. Mastery was defined as competence in the basic skills necessary for active participation in society. Non-mastery on the reading tests does not correspond to 'illiteracy' in the conventional meaning of the term.