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Home > News > 2019 > March > Unsurprising findings in NAPLAN Review: Extreme Pressure on teachers and students

Unsurprising findings in NAPLAN Review: Extreme Pressure on teachers and students

Topics : NAPLANTeachers

On Thursday 28 March, Queensland Minister for Education Grace Grace addressed the Queensland Parliament in response to the Queensland Review of NAPLAN 2018.  Stress.jpeg

The review had an “overwhelming response” from over 7500 parents and carers, 5800 teachers and principals, 3000 students and 200 education stakeholders. 

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said that the review findings will be unsurprising to our members. 

“Our union knows that the professional judgement of teachers far outweighs the outcomes of a national test,” Mr Burke said.

“NAPLAN is essentially a political tool that is out-of-touch and out-of-date with the needs of teachers and students.

“The fundamental use of the assessment data is to compare students and schools to national standards which is then subject to media critique. 

“Extreme pressure is placed on teachers to increase their school’s ranking by narrowing the curriculum to focus on NAPLAN testing areas, to the detriment of their professional autonomy. 

“Our union continues to support and advocate for the professional autonomy of teachers, so that they can continue what they do best – teaching and providing quality education.” 

Review Findings

Ms Grace said that while the review found NAPLAN has played a role in supporting improvements in Queensland’s educational outcomes, it did confirm that there were a range of unintended consequences impacting students, teachers and schools. 

“Many parents reported that testing caused their child to experience anxiety and stress; that there were a range of unintended consequences stemming from the now high-stakes nature of the testing; and that there were differing expectations about the purpose of NAPLAN,” she said. 

“Educators expressed concern at the growing amount of time and pressure in preparing for testing; examples of teaching being tailored to NAPLAN, resulting in a narrowing of the curriculum; and that NAPLAN data was being misinterpreted as the sole indicator of a school’s performance.” 

The review also found: 

  • Parents place greater value in teachers’ reports about a child’s progress in classroom assessments;
  • Some schools appear to be spending too much time preparing for NAPLAN;
  • The media creates a high-stakes environment in relation to NAPLAN;
  • There is little communication between schools and parents in relation to NAPLAN;
  • It is not clear to parents what NAPLAN tests are or what the results are used for;
  • Stakeholders believed NAPLAN has served its purpose but it is time for accountability assessment in Australia to evolve; and
  • NAPLAN may be having a negative impact on the quality of teaching and learning over time. 

Queensland government takes action 

The state government will implement new assessment guidelines for schools, an online resource for parents and strategies to ensure assessment does not negatively affect student and teacher wellbeing. 

Ms Grace said that NAPLAN was never intended to be a high-stakes test and there needs to be a balance between using NAPLAN data for the right purpose while addressing any unintended consequences. 

“To achieve this, we will be incorporating these findings into a communications strategy for parents and schools about NAPLAN,” Ms Grace said. 

“The Palaszczuk Government is developing an online resource for parents and will provide clear guidance to schools about NAPLAN’s place in our education system.”

Still no national review in sight 

Any significant changes to NAPLAN require approval from Education Ministers across Australia.

 As Queensland’s Minister, Grace Grace said she will continue to call for a comprehensive national review of NAPLAN.

“While the Morrison Government will not support a national review of NAPLAN, Federal Labor has committed to a comprehensive review if successful at the coming election, and I welcome this commitment.”

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said that the Department of Education’s response validates the concerns our members have about NAPLAN. 

“Although it is disappointing that there is little the state government can do without the involvement of other states and territories and the federal government, at least we now have a clear documentation of the problems and issues,” Mr Burke said. 

Read the full Department of Education response here


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.