Educators: NAPLAN should include critical thinking, creativity

by Brett Henebery28 Apr 2015

Under new proposals, the national tests could soon be changed to include tasks measuring students’ critical thinking, creativity and extra subjects such as science, health and physical education.

Ron Gorman, director of the Association of Independent Schools WA (AISWA), told The Educator last week that NAPLAN was the wrong focus in measuring students’ academic success.

“If we are focusing on NAPLAN as the measure of success, we’re actually focusing on the wrong thing,” Gorman said.

“NAPLAN plays a part in that but there is a great tapestry of ways that schools effectively communicate – not just to parents but with the students themselves about their learning and about their progress.” 

Gorman added that schools should be focusing on areas of 21st century learning such as knowledge building, critical thinking and problem solving.

The proposal to expand NAPLAN’s disciplines is being supported by the Australian Tutoring Association, which also wants students’ creative and critical­ thinking to play a greater role in the tests.

Topics such as obesity and bullying could also be included under suggested changes to the national tests.

Catholic Education Parramatta Diocese executive director, Greg Whitby, told The Daily Telegraph that NAPLAN was “just the tip of the assessment iceberg”.

“The way students are learning today is much broader and deeper than that and we have to find new ways to measure these learning outcomes,” Whitby said.

“It provides schools with important data on literacy and numeracy but it is only a snapshot and one data set among many that teachers use to ­inform their work.

“We need to look beyond the tip of the iceberg at other assessment measures for ­students and begin measuring 21st century skills such as creativity and critical thinking.

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