CANBERRA, Dec 13 - Education ministers meet on Friday to discuss a new deal on school funding, expected to be finalised in the first half of next year and start from 2018.
Tuesday's NAPLAN results from literacy and numeracy testing of students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 earlier in the year, confirm that student achievement has largely stagnated in recent years.
Results have improved since NAPLAN testing began in 2008 and there are good results in some year levels in some states and territories, says its administrator, the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority.
But chief executive Robert Randall says with no significant improvements across the board in recent years, Australia should expect more for its children.
"We need to raise our expectations and strive for improved results across the board," he said.
"As we have also seen recently with Australia's performance in international assessments, there is broad scope for improvement in achievement."
The final report, which is largely similar to August's preliminary results, comes on the heels of two international studies showing Australia lagging behind in maths and science education.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham says the cumulative results show Australia has a strong school system but needs to make sure funding is being spent on things proven to lift results.
"Australia cannot afford to follow the status quo in schooling," he said.
"We need to move the conversation on from just how much is being spent in schools to focus on how our record funding can best be used for the benefit of students."
Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek says the trio of reports released over the past few weeks show disadvantaged children are still struggling at school, making it vital that governments boost funding to poorer schools.
Despite the overall gloomy picture, the NAPLAN results do show that since 2008 there have been significant cumulative gains made by Indigenous students.
The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia said this was encouraging, although there was still a large gap between the achievements of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
NAPLAN RESULTS FOR 2016:
* Reading for Years 3 and 5 better than 2008 but no improvement from 2015
* Spelling, grammar and punctuation for Year 3 better than 2008 but no improvement from 2015
* Numeracy for Year 5 better than 2008 but no improvement from 2015
* Writing for Year 9 worse than comparable tests in 2011
* Only Years 3 and 5 have significantly higher proportion of students meeting national minimum standards than in 2008
* WA and Queensland made higher gains than other jurisdictions
* ACT, NSW and Victoria still have highest average achievement in Years 3, 5 and 7.