In addition to not meeting the minimum expected level of performance for reading in 2021, year four students had a lower average performance in reading compared to 2018.
After 2015, year four reading scores increased by a very small margin in 2018 and then decreased by a small margin in 2021. Average reading scores from the 2015 and 2018 PILNA cycles also fall below current minimum performance expectations.
Year four students are not, and have not, been meeting the minimum expected level of reading performance. It cannot be said whether the performance benchmark is too high or whether students are struggling to achieve the benchmark due to other factors.
It is clear, however, that the consistent underperformance of year four students in reading needs to be investigated further.
Year four students exceeded the minimum expected level of performance for numeracy in 2021. However, they had a lower average performance in numeracy compared with 2018. Moreover, despite exceeding the minimum expected performance in numeracy, year four students in PILNA 2021 had a lower average numeracy performance than in any previous PILNA cycle.
More research is needed so that stakeholders of primary education can understand the cause of this drop in performance and how year four might return to previous levels.
Writing performance is harder to understand in context because the writing proficiency scale has not yet been developed. However, the average writing performance over time shows a positive trend. Since 2015, average year four writing performance has increased consistently every PILNA cycle.
Whilst it cannot be said whether students are meeting stakeholder expectations in writing, these performance increases are good news.
2021 performance findings also need to be analysed in the context of the new rotated test booklet design. PILNA 2021 collected more information about lower performing students than previous cycles, therefore, it is possible that performance differences are influenced by an increased accuracy of assessment.