Schools Time for NAPLAN to go

  • By Meredith Peace
  • This article was published more than 4 years ago.
  • 28 Oct 2019
Photo: iStock

Our ongoing campaign against NAPLAN is continuing to make an impact. The comprehensive review of NAPLAN is now underway – although federal education minister Dan Tehan’s refusal to agree to this has seen Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the ACT go it alone. A draft report will be tabled at the next national Education Council meeting in early December, with the report to be finalised in 2020.

The AEU branches in each relevant state have recently met with the review’s panel members to put forward our position on NAPLAN. We should get further opportunity to contribute in 2020.

In addition to the review, changes to the reporting of NAPLAN data on the MySchool website have been announced, with less emphasis on comparisons between schools and a greater focus on student progress.

It is unlikely that these changes have simply come out of the recent review conducted into the reporting of data on MySchool. It is set against the mess of the online test roll-out earlier this year, which saw many schools have serious connectivity issues resulting in interruptions to the test, time wasted, and significant stress for students and staff alike. Ultimately, this raises serious questions about the validity of the data.

NAPLAN infiltrates almost every aspect of our education system: narrowing the curriculum; influencing school funding; sidelining teacher judgement; ranking schools; and creating a blunt accountability measure.

The full roll-out of the online tests across Australia has been delayed further, until 2021, to allow further opportunity to iron out any problems. Victorian schools that participated in the online tests this year will be able to continue to trial the online test next year or elect to revert to the pen-and-paper test.

DET repeatedly claims that NAPLAN is just one source of data, and that other sources should be considered when assessing school and student progress. However, we know that it is having a disproportionate impact on the education of our students and on schools more broadly.

NAPLAN data infiltrates almost every aspect of our education system: narrowing the curriculum; influencing school funding; sidelining teacher judgement; ranking schools; and creating a blunt accountability measure at the school and classroom level.

In other words, NAPLAN has become something far beyond what it was designed to be. We will continue to work with our AEU colleagues nationally to campaign against this high-stakes, full-cohort standardised testing regime. Assessment approaches driven by teachers and connected to the taught curriculum should be front and centre of any genuine plan to improve outcomes for students.

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