Queensland's year nine students are the second-worst writers of their age in the country, NAPLAN results reveal.
More than 22 per cent of the state's cohort did not meet the national minimum standard in writing, according to the 2019 preliminary results released on Wednesday.
That's about five per cent lower than the national average, with only students in the Northern Territory faring worse.
"In terms of year nine writing, Queensland does bomb out in comparison to NSW, the ACT and Victoria," University of Southern Queensland education expert Stewart Riddle told AAP.
"The national minimum standard is a pretty low benchmark.
"So even when you say we've got 77 per cent at that national minimum standard, the percentage of students who are actually doing well is quite small. It's about 23-30 per cent."
Queensland students in years three, five and seven are also below the national writing average.
The youngest test-takers were 0.3 per cent behind, but most concerning to Dr Riddle was the slide.
The figure worsens to 1.9 and 3.1 per cent for years five and seven students respectively.
"What it demonstrates is not a lack of basics in terms of spelling, grammar and reading, but a much bigger problem which is one of comprehension and being able to articulate an argument," Dr Riddle said.
"On a more sophisticated level, there's a really big problem."
Queensland year nine students were slightly below the national average in reading, grammar and punctuation and numeracy, but marginally ahead in spelling.
Dr Riddle speculated a "don't care" factor could be at play, with students more likely to treat writing seriously later in high school when university placements were considered.
He said more investment in teacher professional development was needed, particularly in regional areas.
"We're an extremely diverse state," he said.
"If you were to separate southeast Queensland from the rest of Queensland, we would actually do really well. We'd be competitive with the ACT and Victoria.
"Brisbane schools do really well. Everywhere else does really badly."
State Education Minister Grace Grace said that despite these figures, Queensland students had still improved in a number of test areas in the last decade.
"This year's results continue to confirm Queensland as one of the most improved states since testing began in 2008," Ms Grace said in a statement.
"Queensland is still proud to be the star performer when it comes to NAPLAN."
Australian Associated Press