Andrew Morgan GLA181114BREA

Home schoolers beat mainstream students in NAPLAN testing

HOME-SCHOOLED students are outstripping their counterparts in mainstream schools in reading, writing and numeracy, a review of NAPLAN results for New South Wales shows.

The NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards research showed home-schoolers' average reading, grammar and punctuation and numeracy scores were about 70 marks higher apiece than the state average.

They pulled in an average of 20 extra marks for writing and 40 marks for spelling.

Each separate scale spans from approximately zero to 1000 possible marks.

The study compared the results of home-educated students between 2008 and 2013 with those from conventional schools.

However, the board warned the figures should be taken with a grain of salt.

Home-schooling's popularity is definitely on the rise - officially, up from 2802 students in 2012 to 3343 last year.

But authorities believe the true figure could be as much as three times higher than official registrations suggest.

The students are also far less likely to sit the NAPLAN tests than those in mainstream schools, which could skew the results in their favour.

"While more than 3000 students are registered for home schooling in NSW, only students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 would be eligible to sit the NAPLAN tests, and only a small percentage of them actually sit the tests," a board spokesman said.

"The research noted that students who do sit the tests are doing well but the numbers from the research are too small for any conclusions to be made about the findings.

"BOSTES would encourage all parents who are home schooling their children to have them sit the NAPLAN tests so they can benchmark progress and ensure any future research is based on statistically valid numbers."

Last year's NAPLAN results showed little improvement in Australia's numeracy and literacy skills as a whole, apart from progress in reading, writing and grammar for students in Year 3 and numeracy for those in Year 5.

NSW had the highest NAPLAN participation rate, but Education Minister Adrian Piccoli still warned the state was "10 to 15 years" behind the world's best, Canada, Finland and New Zealand. -APN NEWSDESK