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Home > News > 2019 > May > Experts question NAPLAN data while teaching profession review reveals little

Experts question NAPLAN data while teaching profession review reveals little

exam_web.jpgWhen NAPLAN reached its 10 year anniversary in 2018, researchers at Griffith University sought to investigate its purpose, function and value.


Research conducted by Dr Judy Rose and co-authors highlighted four key issues: datafication, social justice, affective and emotional consequences and the use of NAPLAN to measure school, teacher and student performance.


The research questioned the way large sets of NAPLAN data are used, particularly in regard to insights about individual student performance. The distressing impact NAPLAN can have on students and staff was also noted.


“Evidence suggests that NAPLAN works best when used as one of several indicators of achievement, one tool in a toolbox to inform (not dictate) pedagogy and curriculum, and where the ‘high stakes’ aspect of the suite of tests is downplayed,” according to the research.


The authors said experts have “further argued that standardised tests can be beneficial to education when: (1) they provide information on strengths as well as learning gaps, (2) teachers and students are well informed and have a strong belief in their purpose, and (3) they are conducted in an ‘environment of psychological safety’.”


However, Dr Rose and her co-authors argue that their synthesis of the research shows that “points 2 and 3 are not satisfactorily being met for NAPLAN.”


IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said NAPLAN is out of touch with the needs of students and teachers.


"NAPLAN at its fundamental level takes individual student data and compares it against national standards.


"This is then aggregated to compare schools.


“It is outrageous that this data is used in such a way.


“This reveals nothing about how a student is truly progressing — it is nothing more than a political tool used to create league tables of schools.


“Effectively, all that NAPLAN tells us is that a student’s postcode will reveal how well they will have performed on the tests — that socioeconomic status affects results — and any teacher in Australia can tell you that.


“Teachers are the ones who know how their students are progressing, and teachers’ professional judgements should be valued more highly than the results of NAPLAN.”


Review of teaching profession wraps up with little progress


A highly touted federal review into the Status of the Teaching Profession has been dissolved ahead of the upcoming election.


The review included public hearings across the country and sought to increase the attractiveness of the teaching profession, provide appropriate support for teachers, reduce out-of-hours and at-home workload burdens, and investigate ways to increase the retention rates of teaching staff.


Despite the review’s ambitious scope, it resulted in just a single four page document highlighting the concerns raised by those involved.


Mr Burke said teachers would be unsurprised by the document as many of the concerns reflected those raised repeatedly by IEUA-QNT members – workload issues, datafication of teachers’ work and a lack of professional autonomy.


“The key takeaway from this incomplete review is that governments have spent too much time assembling so-called ‘expert’ panels when they should be listening to the views of practising teachers.”


“It is time to re-assess the current teaching culture, which includes too great a focus on standardised testing, data reporting and additions to the curriculum without an appropriate consideration of teacher workload and students’ best interests.


Mr Burke said successive governments had exacerbated these problems by conflating education funding with NAPLAN results and PISA outcomes.


“What has always baffled education professionals is how the government expects meaningful data to be drawn about a student’s progression from one particular test, conducted at one particular point in time, that in no way reflects the vast array of skills that form a well-rounded education.


“Teachers have a fundamental task in their classrooms and that is to craft, differentiate and deliver learning experiences for each student.”

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