The ACT achieved mixed results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) for 2011. ACT students achieved high average results but there was little improvement since 1995 and it has large achievement gaps in Year 8.

The ACT has high average scores which are significantly higher than nearly all other states and the Northern Territory. High proportions of students achieved at the most advanced levels while low proportions achieved at or below the international proficiency levels.

There is a large increase in the achievement gap between the bottom and top 5% of students from Year 4 to Year 8. The ACT has the smallest gaps in Year 4 reading, mathematics and science but in Year 8 mathematics and science it has the largest gaps apart from NSW.

Apart from an improvement in Year 4 mathematics, ACT scores in Year 4 science and Year 8 mathematics and science have stagnated since 1995. However, the average score in Year 4 science has increased since 2007, but there was no change in Year 8 mathematics and science.

There were significant increases in the proportions of Year 4 students at the most advanced levels since 2007 and significant decreases in the proportion at or below the international standards. However, there was no change in the proportions at the most advanced and low levels in Year 8 since 2007.

**Year 4 Results**

**Reading**

The mean reading score of ACT students was significantly higher than that of students in all other states.

The ACT had the largest proportion of students at the most advanced reading level in Australia (17%). This is similar to many high achieving countries, and only significantly exceeded by Singapore.

The ACT had the lowest proportion of students at the low levels of achievement in Australia (13%). This was similar to many higher performing countries, but larger than several.

The ACT had the smallest gap between the top and bottom 5% of students in Australia.

**Mathematics**

The mean mathematics score for ACT students was significantly higher than that of students in all states except Victoria. The ACT, NSW and Victoria had the highest proportions of students at the advanced level. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of ACT students were at or below the low international benchmark, but this was a much lower proportion than in any other state.

The proportion of ACT students at the advanced level is higher than in many other Western countries but much lower than in high performing East Asian countries. Similarly, the proportion at or below the low international benchmark is similar to many other Western countries but much higher than in East Asian countries.

The ACT had the smallest gap between the top and bottom 5% of students in Australia.

There was a significant all round improvement in Year 4 mathematics in the ACT. There was a statistically significant improvement in the mean score since 1995 and particularly since 2007. The proportion of students at the most advanced level doubled from 7% to 14% between 2007 and 2011 and the proportion at or below the low international benchmark fell from 33% to 19%.

**Science**

The average science score of ACT students was significantly higher than that of students in all other states in 2011. The ACT also had the highest proportion of students at the advanced level (13%) and the lowest proportion at or below the low benchmark (16%).

The proportion of students at the advanced level in the ACT was higher than in many Western countries but below that of Singapore, Korea and Finland. Similarly, the proportion at or below the low international benchmark is lower than in many Western countries but much higher than in Korea, Japan, Singapore and Finland.

The ACT had the smallest range of results between the top and bottom 5% of students of any state.

There was no statistically significant change in the ACT science mean score since 1995, but it did increase significantly from 2007 to 2011. The proportion of students at the advanced level increased from 9% to 13% between 2007 and 2011 and the proportion at or below the low benchmark decreased from 25% to 16%.

**Year 8 Results**

**Mathematics**

The ACT had the highest average score in mathematics in 2011 but it was statistically similar to that of NSW. The ACT and NSW also had the highest proportion of students at the advanced level (14% and 13% respectively) and the ACT had the lowest proportion at or below the low benchmark (26%).

The proportion of students at the advanced level in the ACT was higher than in many Western countries but well below that of the East Asian countries. The proportion at or below the low international benchmark was similar to Finland, lower than in many Western countries but much higher than in the East Asian countries.

The ACT and NSW had the biggest range of scores between the top and bottom 5% of students, with a range of 292 and 309 score points respectively.

There was no statistically significant difference in the mean score for the ACT between 1995 and 2011 or between 2007 and 2011. There was also little change in the proportions of students at different benchmarks between 2007 and 2011.

**Science**

The ACT had the highest average score in science in 2011 but it was statistically similar to that of NSW. The ACT had the highest proportion of students at the advanced level (19%) and by far the lowest proportion at or below the low benchmark (18%).

The proportion of students at the advanced science level in the ACT was higher than in many Western countries including Finland, but well below that of Singapore and Taiwan. The proportion at or below the low international benchmark was lower than in many Western countries and only a little higher than in Finland, Singapore, Japan and Korea.

The ACT and NSW had the biggest range of scores between the top and bottom 5% of students, with a range of 286 and 294 score points respectively.

There was no statistically significant difference in the mean score for the ACT between 1995 and 2011 or between 2007 and 2011. There was also little change in the proportions of students at different benchmarks between 2007 and 2011.

Trevor Cobbold