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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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The latest in a series of destructive cold fronts slammed into WA overnight, causing destructive winds, rain and hail storms.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning at 6.45am, following similar warnings issued throughout the weekend.

Waves from the Swan River are washing onto the Kwinana Freeway north of Canning Highway citybound. There is also flooding on Beaufort Street in Inglewood heading into the city and on Riverside Drive.

Traffic lights are blacked out at the Great Eastern Highway and Bolton Road intersection in Burswood.

The front is the most severe of a series that have descended on WA over the past few days.

A wind gust of 115kmh was recorded at Rottnest Island about 6am today, and the Bureau is warning people to expect winds up to 100kmh with potentially damaging gusts reaching 125kmh this morning.

Alex Krisman from WeatherZone said Cape Naturaliste (109kmh) and Cape Leeuwin (104kmh) also recorded heavy gusts of wind – which coincided with a line of lightning flashes- at the same time as Rottnest Island.

Winds at Perth Airport hit 83kmh while the Perth metropolitan area clocked speeds up to 72kmh at 5.50am.

Rainfall was heavy, particularly across the south west. So far, Bridgetown has had 32mm from 9am yesterday morning.

Thunderstorms and heavy showers are forecast for today, particularly over the Lower West, South-West and South Coastal districts.

Abnormally high tides are set to cause flooding in low-lying coastal areas.

A gale warning has been issued from Kalbarri right through to the South Australian border.

Surfers are being warned to brace for heavy conditions, which are likely to cause significant beach erosion.

The State Emergency Service has warned people to secure loose objects, move vehicles under cover and stay inside away from windows.

People caught outdoors should find shelter away from trees, powerlines, storm water drains and streams. Boat owners should make sure their boats are securely moored.

Source  :   www.watoday.com.au

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