NAPLAN re­port­ing con­cerns

The Australian Education Reporter - - NEWS - EMMA DAVIES

WITH more than one mil­lion stu­dents across the coun­try com­menc­ing the an­nual as­sess­ments in May, the Catholic ed­u­ca­tor sec­tor has raised con­cerns about the ef­fects of the test­ing on stu­dents’ men­tal health, as well as how the data col­lected is re­ported.

The Aus­tralian Cur­ricu­lum, As­sess­ment and Re­port­ing Au­thor­ity (ACARA) com­piles the data on the myschools web­site as a tool to com­pare stu­dents’ lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy, in­form teach­ing de­ci­sions, and thus im­prove learn­ing out­comes for stu­dents.

With al­most 20 per cent of stu­dents us­ing the new on­line for­mat this year, ACARA chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Ran­dall said that the de­sign and de­liv­ery of the as­sess­ments would change but the way re­sults were re­ported would be the same as the hard copy tests.

“Both paper-based and on­line tests as­sess stu­dents on the same cur­ricu­lum content, with all re­sults placed on the same NAPLAN as­sess­ment scale,” Mr Ran­dall said.

“This means both modes of test­ing mea­sure the same lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy skills and offer com­pa­ra­ble test re­sults.”

Mr Ran­dall said the on­line test­ings of­fers more pre­cises re­sults, more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion for teach­ers and a more en­gag­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for stu­dents.

Catholic Schools NSW (CSNSW) chief ex­ec­u­tive Dal­las Mcin­er­ney said he be­lieved NAPLAN was a crit­i­cal mea­sure of stu­dents’ foun­da­tion lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy skills, but he was con­cerned with the way the data was used to ‘mar­ket’ schools.

“NAPLAN should be re­lied upon for di­ag­nos­tic in­sights be­fore any­thing else,” Mr Mcin­er­ney said.

““We urge pol­i­cy­mak­ers to make changes to the way NAPLAN re­sults are pub­lished to pre­vent their mis­use,” he said.

“It is sim­plis­tic – and there­fore mis­lead­ing – to make judg­ments about a school’s per­for­mance based on whether its NAPLAN ta­bles are coloured red or green.”

Mr Mcin­er­ney said the league ta­bles were un­fair to schools and stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds and that there was a near uni­ver­sal con­sen­sus among school sec­tors, teach­ers and prin­ci­pals for the Fed­eral Govern­ment to mod­ify the way NAPLAN re­sults were re­ported.

Mr Mcin­er­ney said CSNSW wel­comed the in­di­ca­tion made by Fed­eral Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham that a re­view of NAPLAN may com­mence later this year, which would ex­am­ine how the data was re­ported.

Mean­while, the Coun­cil of Catholic School Par­ents (CCSP) was more con­cerned about the toll NAPLAN test­ing took on stu­dents’ men­tal health.

CCSP Chair Narelle Burke said that schools, teach­ers, par­ents and the com­mu­nity should re­frain from over­stat­ing the im­por­tance of the na­tional as­sess­ment when dis­cussing it with stu­dents.

“NAPLAN is just an­other school test and it should be treated that way. It’s merely a snap shot re­gard­ing an in­di­vid­ual stu­dent’s lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy skills, and not re­flec­tive of a stu­dent’s over­all abil­i­ties,” Ms Burke said.

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