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WA’s peak parent group has slammed a plan to test pre-primary students next year as a waste of money, saying it’s “ridiculous” to assess children as young as four.

As part of its strategy to improve literacy and numeracy across WA, the Education Department will start to roll out the 30-minute assessments in the first term in public schools. The Sunday Times can reveal some of the sample questions likely to be used in the so-called “on entry assessments”, which are aimed at picking up early problems.

Pre-primary students in public schools will be asked to: Speak about a certain topic, such as friends or favourite games, for two to three minutes. Estimate how many teddy bears are in a cup. Put objects, from smallest to tallest, in order. Count backwards. Match dots with a number on a page.

WA Council of State School Organisations president Rob Fry attacked the $2 million plan, saying he expected parents to be angered by the “ineffective” results.

“I just find this truly remarkable when you’re dealing with children of such a young age,” he said.

“If you get an exceptionally shy child, you’re asking a four-year-old to talk on a subject for two minutes and some of them won’t want to say anything at that age. Does that mean they’ve got a literacy problem? No, they might be shy.

“It’s ineffective and you are going to get such diverse responses between a child coming from an indigenous community to a child living in a Perth suburb with a highly socially active family.”

School Support Programs executive director David Axworthy said the Education Department based its tests on the Victorian model because it was the “best tool to meet the needs of WA children”. It would also enable shared resources between the states.

“It will leave WA well placed for the introduction of the national curriculum when it is produced in 2011,” he said.

WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen supported the plan because it would allow teachers to set benchmarks and adapt their programs to suit children’s needs.

Education Minister Liz Constable said children at risk of falling behind would be identified earlier, allowing urgent action to be taken.

Under the plan, students in 50 schools will be tested in term one before all public schools will have access to the assessments in the final term. From 2011, each pre-primary student will be tested at the start of the year.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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POLICE have charged a 17-year-old boy – a former volunteer firefighter – after a spate of more than 20 deliberately lit fires in the Perth Hills this week.

The teenager has been charged with four counts of arson after he was arrested by detectives from the arson squad this afternoon. bush fire

Police say they expect more charges to be laid over the outstanding fires in the Shire of Mundaring on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The arrest comes after a six-month operation between FESA, the Department of Environment and Conservation and the police arson squad targeting arsonists in the Perth foothills

Detective Sergeant David Gorton said police had focused their attention on the teenager since mid-March.

“We will allege that this young man lit two fires (Wednesday) – one in Hovea and one in Parkerville – in the space of about 15 minutes,” Det-Sgt Gorton said.

“The previous charges relate to February this year in Glen Forrest and then March in Parkerville again.”

It is understood the teenager was a volunteer firefighter when he allegedly lit the Glen Forrest and first Parkerville fires, but he resigned from the position two weeks ago.

“No property was damaged in relation to these fires however, some of the fires were lit in close proximity to houses so there was always a danger that given a wind direction change or other circumstances that property could have been damaged,” he said.

“Certainly there was the potential for property and lives to be lost in relation to what he was doing.”
The teenager has also been charged with five counts of making malicious phone calls to 000 earlier this year.

The maximum penalty for bushfire arson convictions is a $250,000 fine and/or 14 years in jail.

www.news.com.au

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