Gillard announces reading blitz for young students

EARLY primary school students will take part in a nationwide intensive reading program in an attempt to lift Australia's declining literacy levels.

About 75,000 students failed to meet national minimum standards in NAPLAN testing last year and the Federal Government warns that without improvement the number could climb to more than 150,000 by 2025.

The state of Australia's literacy levels were further highlighted when Year 4 students came in 27th place out of 42 countries involved in the 2012 Progress in International Reading Literacy Skills.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced a new national "reading blitz" targeting foundation to Year 3 students to help address the nation's falling literacy skills.

The Federal Government will ask schools in every state and territory to sign up to the three-year initiative.It involves inviting community members and parents to read in classrooms, providing homework strategies to parents and introducing reading plans to prevent students from falling behind at school.

Ms Gillard said too many Australians were not getting the basic reading skills early in life.

"We want every school to focus on using the right teaching methods, specialist teacher skills and data about student progress to make sure that all kids are reading well and reaching the right standards early in their schooling," she said in a statement.

"Teachers would identify and help struggling children, and parents, employers and community groups asked to help support students to improve."

About 1.1 million students will take part in the program from next year.



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