THE ACT and NSW dominated the 2011 NAPLAN results, between them having the most students above the minimum standard in 18 of 20 categories. The achievements of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 across reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy were tested in May. The preliminary results of the 2011 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests were released today. They show the ACT had the most students above the standard for reading and grammar and punctuation in all years. The territory also topped the results for years 3 and 7 in spelling, and years 7 and 9 in numeracy. NSW had the most students in years 3, 5 and 7 who were above the standard in writing; for years 5 and 9 in spelling; and for year 3 in numeracy. The Northern Territory had the fewest students meeting minimum standards in all categories and grades. NT students’ average achievements have stayed the same, statistically speaking, in all areas since 2008. The NT’s worst result was in writing for Year 9 students, in which just 57.1 per cent met the minimum standard. This compared with a national average of 84.6 per cent. But in one positive sign for the NT the percentage of students who were at or above the national standard for numeracy rose for all year groups between 2010 and 2011. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) says the results show NT students do demonstrate a good progression from one school year to the next. "The problem is that so many students begin school with relatively low levels of English literacy and numeracy and, despite their good progress at school, never catch up," chief executive Geoff Masters said in a statement. This year, the writing task was changed from a narrative style to persuasive writing. This could account for the results showing the percentage of students in all years who were at or above the minimum standard for writing fell both from the 2008 level and the 2010 level. However, the report cautioned the results for writing could not be compared with previous years because of the different style of task. Schools Minister Peter Garrett said the results were encouraging because they showed more than 90 per cent of all students achieved the minimum standard. He said the government would look closely at the results to see where extra action was needed. ACER says the results show the importance of early learning opportunities. "The greatest gains in literacy and numeracy levels between 2008 and 2011 in Australia occurred among Year 3 children in Queensland, following the introduction of a Prep year in that state," Prof Masters said. The final results for the 2011 tests will be available in the NAPLAN National Report later this year. Individual student results will be given to parents.