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Pre-school attendance improves NAPLAN scores

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A study conducted by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has found that year 3 nationwide NAPLAN test outcomes are higher for those who attended pre-school.

The higher scores are significant for numeracy, reading, writing and spelling. However, there is no significant difference on the NAPLAN scores for grammar.

Findings from the study led by Diana Warren and John P. Haisken-DeNew also indicated that qualifications of the pre-school teacher have an impact. Children who had a pre-school teacher with a degree in Early Childhood Education or a Diploma in Early Childhood Education or Child Care gained the most from attending pre-school. Pre-school children who had a teacher with only a certificate qualification or no relevant childcare qualification did not have significantly higher scores compared to children who did not attend pre-school.

The study used data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children which identifies pre-school usage and its connection to five cognitive outcomes from the NAPLAN test in year 3. It focused on the longer-term effects of the qualifications of the children’s pre-school teacher on the children’s cognitive results, rather than on the cognitive outcomes of children in their pre-school year.

As the first study in Australia to supply direct comparisons between the qualification of pre-school teachers and cognitive outcomes later in life, the study suggests that high quality pre-school programs are essential. It also proves that measures such as the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement that ensures all Australian children have access to quality early childhood education program – as well as the establishment of the National Quality Standard for early childhood education and care providers in Australia – are more likely to have long-term benefits for children who, in other circumstances, would find it hard to attend pre-school.

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