NAPLAN reporting concerns
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.