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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 12 > National testing for Year 1 students closer to becoming reality

National testing for Year 1 students closer to becoming reality

Kindergarten_students_web_qual.pngThe federal government has released a report which recommends a national literacy and numeracy check be implemented for all Year 1 students – an added burden to teachers’ increasingly heavy workloads. 

Issues snapshot:

  • A federal panel has recommended literacy and numeracy checks for Year 1 students.
  • The tests would require teachers conduct one-on-one interviews for every student.
  • Our union believes the Federal Government must ensure teachers are appropriately supported with adequate resources, time and training if these tests were to be implemented.

A report produced by a federal panel in April was release by the Federal Government in September outlining an alleged need for Year 1 testing in phonics and numeracy. 

It is not yet clear how the Federal Government will proceed with this advice. 

Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones has rejected the proposal to introduce the tests

Ms Jones is reported to have said the current prep and Year 1 curricula provide plenty of feedback about students' performance.

"No parent wants more exams for their children.”

Ms Jones said at a meeting of education ministers in Adelaide, Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham failed to get any support for the new test.

"Once again the Turnbull Government [is] trying to dictate to states how to run schools,” Ms Jones said. 

If the federal government were to proceed with implementing a Year 1 check as per the recommendations of the panel, classroom teachers may be required to conduct one-on-one interview-style assessments of literacy and numeracy, on top of checks they are already conducting within their classrooms. 

The report noted stakeholders’ (including teachers) argument that teachers already do similar checks in the classroom, and felt that an additional assessment would not be effective, increase the test burden on teachers and not provide results that would support improvements in literacy and/or numeracy learning outcomes.

There was also concern from stakeholders that the introduction of a phonics check would have a distorting effect on teacher practices, resulting in emphasis on phonics instruction at the expense of other aspects of oral language and early reading mastery.

Ensuring teachers have enough time to undertake the check was also a main concern, as facilitating one-on-one interviews with each student could be time consuming and take time away from teaching. 

To address this administrative challenge, the Panel considered it will be important to ensure the checks can be delivered quickly and efficiently, minimising the time per student to undertake the test and the need for teacher relief or support in the classroom. 

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said this is easier said than done. 

“Our union welcomes reforms that appropriately address problematic issues in student learning; however, the Federal Government and employers must ensure that members feel properly equipped to implement such changes, that the reform reflects desired learning outcomes, and that feasible benchmarks for student achievement are established.

“It is not enough to simply acknowledge these challenges.

“Action needs to be taken to ensure teachers are not unfairly burdened with more unnecessary testing regimes.

“A commitment to providing adequate training, resources and space for teachers to make their own professional judgements is absolutely essential,” Mr Burke said. 

Read the full report here

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