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EXCLUSIVE: ACARA responds to record NAPLAN withdrawals

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Brett Henebery | 05 Feb 2015, 11:13 AM Agree 0
What do you think is behind the decline in participation of the NAPLAN test?
  • Andrew | 05 Feb 2015, 02:12 PM Agree 0
    I don't have a problem with NAPLAN as such - testing all students against nationwide benchmarks in literacy and numeracy skills and thereby identifying students with additional learning needs is fine. If this is then paired with additional funding to address the learning needs, the better.
    The issue in my opinion is with the results being used to rank schools. In a competitive market this will cause the market players (schools) to find ways to boost their ranking. This can be done by putting additional pressure on the students to perform well, asking weaker students to stay home, training for the test for months while other subjects are neglected, etc. This is a typical behaviour of a competitive market - put measures in place to advance one's ranking. The result is that NAPLAN now is branded with a level of importance it was never intended for.
  • Nathan | 05 Feb 2015, 02:27 PM Agree 0
    I worked in the UK for 13 years before returning to Australia. The equivalent tests there were exclusively used to rank schools and how Parents then would choose a school for thier child. Teaching to the test became the 'norm' in culture as there was so much pressure to deliver, and ultimately the students suffered. I would hate to see Australia become the same way.

    The NAPLAN test are good for schools I believe as a benchmark to measure how you think students are doing, to where they actually are. However the results come out far too late to do anything with for that year which is an enormous let down.

    I would happily have regular testing Australia wide to replace other tests that we effectively run in schools anyway, so that there could be greater student tracking of achievement over time.
  • Dianne | 05 Feb 2015, 02:44 PM Agree 0
    Nathan, I hope your spelling of 'their' is a typo.....
  • Chris | 05 Feb 2015, 02:45 PM Agree 0
    There needs to be benchmarks... BUT it is high stakes pressure for schools and students to deliver. We sit students through the testing that cant read or access the information they need to answer the questions...why, so they feel like failures again? if they cant access the information should they sit through it. What about the child who on the day is so stressed they are throwing up outside the classroom, is he going to give his best?

    NAPLAN is a single part of students achievement yet it is the measure of performance of a school, a principal's career path, the measure of a teacher. Even the Ministers from around the country use it to talk their cases up as to why their state is the best state. We need to move beyond the need to measure every aspect, compare every student.

    In the US the data shows every three years students improve as they 'get use to the testing style' and as the new contracts come up to design and facilitate the billion dollar industry. Australia needs to be careful that we measure for measure sake. maybe a series of smaller tests, or moderation of work samples, would be of more benifgit. But please don't try and make parents and students feel like they are failing their kids because they don't sit a test.

    • Concerned Principal | 06 Feb 2015, 12:36 AM Agree 0
      Yes! Also, anyone could have guess that our students in 2014 had less chance of improving in the Creative Writing section, as it was the first time in several years that students might have to be ready to face two genre type, where as in past years there was a known one... This for a start invalidates any trend -up or down assumptions off results. This means that all the nervous teachers had to spend hours running over and over two genre types instead of one as they did in other years. Ops that sort of thing doesn't happen, we don't teach to the test -we teach balanced writing programs...
  • | 05 Feb 2015, 04:45 PM Agree 0
    As a Secondary School Principal who has developed a school based on actual research, if ACARA can show me the peer reviewed study that demonstrates that standardised testing actually improves results for students then I will be delighted to implement the NAPLAN. Until that time informed educators and parents will continue be against this type of testing.

    Peter Hutton
    Templestowe College
  • Concerned Principal | 06 Feb 2015, 12:28 AM Agree 0
    I have been involved in education for twenty five years and feel testing is an important part of assessment. My issue is how ACARA and NAPLAN is used as an excuse to set work at a given chronological level instead of catering for individual needs. I have heard many parents commenting on their students being dragged along in loaded classrooms through work that is above their students "instructional level". The school and/or teacher suggesting that they have to complete the work at this level to be prepared for the next NAPLAN. This makes me angry as it is basic knowledge that if the work is to difficult, then a child will usually just get further behind. For example - I was furious to hear of a teacher placing pressure on a year 4 student regarding the completion of his assessment creative writing assessment tasks, just after being told that the boy was reading at a level 4 to 6 PM level. I asked the parent -is he not receiving reading support and well leveled early readers -the answer was, "no, the teacher is just worried about the written assessments not being completed. i have seen this before and wonder if pushing students along is more important than learning to read?

    This is further compounded by the fact that our education leaders are often those who left the classroom because they could not teacher so well and thus completed Masters and Docs to get into management and so on... I believe this is what is turning our industry into a measurement and assessment game rather than focusing on a teaching practice game. Too much energy is going into the back end and not enough is going into the front end. The front end being more engaging lessons that cater for levels rather than the back end -marking off content descriptor attainment levels...
  • Ken | 09 Feb 2015, 12:01 PM Agree 0
    I believe that the huge amount of money spent on NAPLAN would be better diverted to schools to use to make a difference, especially at a primary school level in order to get the foundation right. At present the NAPLAN results are used as a big stick applied to, in most cases , to our most disadvantaged families. I can well imagine that kids and parents would be concerned about the tests and their concerns are valid - why should they be told on a regular basis that their child is not doing well in school?
    It is worth noting that the NAPLAN Tests had their genesis in the ELLA & SNAP tests in NSW - these tests were purely diagnostic and enabled parents and most importantly to target learning deficiencies for groups of students and individuals, a much better use of the funds and less intrusive for the kids.
  • Lucy | 12 Jun 2015, 03:04 PM Agree 0
    Sadly a lot of what is proposed and implemented in education these days results from political one upmanship and who can promote their research and book deal the loudest.
    Education would be in a much better state if decisions were taken away from the political arena and were based on solid, tried and tested research.....not the latest fad.
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