Not all bad: Some teachers are optimistic about NAPLAN replacement

The latest in a series of reviews into the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has done little to quell the controversy which has plagued the standardised school assessment since its introduction.

The review, initiated by the NSW, Queensland, Victorian and ACT governments, proposes modifying NAPLAN and renaming it the Australian National Standardised Assessment (ANSA).

The proposal to maintain a standardised test has been criticised by teachers’ unions across the nation with the NSW Teachers Federation concerned the new test will just be more of the same.

A Queensland teacher has however defended the program and declared the review recommendations hold some promise for the future.

“I think what NAPLAN was originally supposed to do was a good idea – where you have a point in time every two years to find out where kids’ literacy and numeracy is at – that is a really good thing,” she said.

“However what schools do, because they have these ranking systems, they spend months teaching to the tests which is not a good idea.”

Included in the 180-page report is a recommendation that when the results are published it is emphasised they do not compare statistically similar schools.

“It is helpful data but using it to rank schools … I don’t think that is helpful,” the teacher said.

“If schools would stop teaching to the tests and would just administer the tests, it would be awesome.”

Key recommendations of the review include:

  • expanding the subjects tested to include science, engineering, technology and critical and creative thinking, in addition to English and mathematics
  • continuing to test students in years 3, 5 and 7 and moving the current testing of students in Year 9 to Year 10
  • moving the test forward from May to as early as possible in the year
  • providing results within one week to better inform teaching and learning for the rest of the year.

David Carroll

David is a senior journalist with more than 25 years experience in Australian media, you can find more of his work in our upcoming print issues of School News magazine.

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