Lisa Wilkinson asked the education minister why we need to test grade one students. This was his response.

SELL: The Today Show host asked Education Minister Simon Birmingham why we need to test children two years before NAPLAN.
Sell: “A lot of parents might be concerned that these, let’s call them a skills check, could be stressful,” the Today Show host told Simon Birmingham.
SeLL: “Once you identify children who are having problems what’s the plan then?”

Proposed literacy and numeracy testing for grade one students will be more of a “skills check” than a traditional written test, says Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

Mr Birmingham was on the Today Show to explain the federal government’s new proposal to introduce mandatory testing for students in grade one – two years ahead of their first NAPLAN sitting.

Host Lisa Wilkinson was straight to the point, asking the MP why he believed six-year-olds needed these tests.

He explained existing NAPLAN results show one in 20 children are not meeting the minimum literacy standards or skill sets when they reach that point in their schooling – and it’s important to identify who that “one” is.

“So it’s essential that we ensure children in those first few years of schooling are getting the extra help they need, if they’re falling behind, if they’re not responding appropriately to the type of teaching practices used.”

Mr Birmingham clarified that it would not be a test, but an “in-school, in-classroom skills check” that wouldn’t be publicly reported and would simply allow parents and teachers to know if their child is meeting standards expected for a child at that age or falling behind.

Wilkinson told the minister that a lot of parents might be concerned the skills check could be stressful, to which he replied the check was “very simple” and something many schools were doing already.

Lisa Wilkinson aksed Simon Birmingham questions many parents wanted answers to.(Image via Today Show.)

"So they literally consist of a school teacher, could even be the classroom teacher, sitting down in a one-on-one format with a list of words and sounds and numbers that a child would read back to the teacher," he explained.

Mr Birmingham explained that once children are identified as having problems it will be up to the school to use available funding to target and tailor teaching to support students who may be falling behind.

"Teacher support is critical to this to make sure that it's not just a skills check that then sits in the bottom drawer, but is actually something that helps inform and improve teacher practice in the classroom for kids who need it most."