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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 20 > Review reinforces radical changes to NAPLAN required

Review reinforces radical changes to NAPLAN required

Classroom_hot_spot_web.jpgNAPLAN needs to be radically overhauled to ensure it meets the needs of students and teachers, according to the final report from the expert, independent Review commissioned by the Queensland, Victorian, New South Wales and ACT Governments.

The key findings of the review which include:

  • the lag between testing and results makes data ineffective for teachers;
  • the timing of the test contributes to stress and anxiety for students and teachers;
  • the writing test is flawed and needs a major overhaul; and
  • a lack of contemporary content and delivery.

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the Report’s findings confirmed the concerns raised by our union for years; however, what teachers and students needed now was the federal government to act and take on board these latest recommendations.

“We need an assessment strategy that caters to the needs of teachers and students and put an end to using NAPLAN as a political tool,” Mr Burke said.  

“It needs to be a tool that is useful and effective for teachers to inform and support their practice.

“This can be achieved through enacting the Review’s recommendations and listening to the voices of teachers – it’s our profession after all.”

Key recommendations

The report recommended that NAPLAN be replaced with a new test, The Australian National Standardised Assessment (ANSA).

If adopted, ANSA would bring about sweeping changes, including:

·        re-thinking the writing assessment;

·        adding in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and critical thinking assessment components;

·        changing the assessment time to earlier in the year to reduce stress placed on teachers and students as well as to curb ‘teaching to the test’;

·        ensuring results are returned sooner (within one week); and

·        shifting the Year 9 test to Year 10 to better inform senior subject selection.

Mr Burke said most of these recommendations should help alleviate the stress caused by NAPLAN; however, some would need further clarification.

“Changing the timeframe of the test to earlier in the year and ensuring that results are returned efficiently would make the test a more effective tool for teachers who would then be able to use the results to inform their professional judgement and practice for the year ahead,” Mr Burke said.

“However, we have concerns around how the test will be returned so quickly.

“We should not be relying on digital, online tests to achieve this, as the recent online NAPLAN rollout has highlighted that format’s significant deficiencies including inequitable access to technology, devices and reliable internet connection.

“Edu-businesses should also not be contracted to undertake this task – the data needs to remain in the hands of the government and schools.

“We are also hesitant to accept further assessment components in STEM and critical thinking – although they are key areas of education, we should not be increasing the assessment load for teachers or students.

“The test needs to be modernised but we need to ensure the voices of classroom teachers and students are the central focus of changes made,” Mr Burke said.

Consensus needed between all Education Ministers

The Review was put to the Education Council on Friday, 28 August.

The Council, which comprises of all State, Territory and Federal Education Ministers, need to reach a consensus for any changes to occur.

However, despite the growing push to overhaul the test, Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan has said the federal government’s priority remains focused on ensuring the full transition to NAPLAN Online.

Queensland Minister for Education Grace Grace said the proposed changes would address issues the concerns of parents, students and teachers, that the current testing is onerous for teachers and too high stakes for students.

“This review aims to make changes to NAPLAN that alleviate these concerns, while providing valuable information to schools, parents and the wider community alike,” Grace said.

She said the government would not throw out the parts of the testing structure that worked.

“This review has been about identifying the good practice, what’s worth keeping and what needs changing,” she said.

“But it’s time to move on from a ten-year-old testing regime to a more contemporary model that’s useful to everybody.”

To read the full report, go to www.naplanreview.com.au

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