The classroom practices that lift NAPLAN results

Students who felt their teachers had high expectations of them did better in NAPLAN and were at least three months ahead of their peers by year 9, according to a new report that shows a teacher's encouragement to work hard drives academic performance.

The report also said that when two students had identical socioeconomic status and academic performance, a student who did not skip lessons in year 7 was on average three months ahead in their learning by year 9, compared with a student who had poor attendance.

The student with good attendance would also score almost five points higher in their year 9 NAPLAN reading test than a student who regularly missed school or turned up late.

Using data from the NSW Tell Them From Me student surveys in 2013 and 2015, the report looked at how students' engagement, performance and experience of classroom practices in year 7 affected their engagement and performance in year 9.

The survey, run by the NSW Department of Education's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, captured the views of hundreds of thousands of students in years 4 to 12 at NSW public schools.

"The results from the NSW data show that when students agree that their teachers have high academic expectations of them [and their peers], they are three months ahead in their learning by year 9 compared with students who do not agree," the report, based on 6800 students, says.

The report said schools could set high expectations by stressing that students must work hard to succeed, encourage students to do better and set personal goals, provide feedback and expect homework to be done on time.

Positive behaviour, which included not breaking school rules or being disruptive in class, also had a significant impact on NAPLAN results and learning, the report says.

Again comparing students with identical backgrounds, a student in year 7 who exhibited positive behaviour in class and at school was on average six months ahead in their learning by year 9 in terms of NAPLAN scores compared with a student with poor behaviour.

"Students who attend school regularly, concentrate on learning, adhere to the rules of the school, and do not engage in disruptive behaviours, such as skipping class or fighting, generally get better grades and perform better on standardised tests," the report says.

Motivation and academic interest were also indicators of academic performance and a students who was motivated to learn and was interested in their school work would score more than five points higher in year 9 NAPLAN reading.

"This study confirms that when students are engaged at school, they learn more and perform better. The study also confirms that engagement can be improved when teachers use effective teaching practices," the report says.

"There is now evidence that positive engagement during the school years is an important factor not only in enrolment but in the completion of post-secondary education."

The story The classroom practices that lift NAPLAN results first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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