‘Unnecessary pressure’: Teachers demand NAPLAN be axed
Teachers are demanding that national numeracy and literacy tests be scrapped for putting "unnecessary pressure'' on students.
Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe called on the Federal Government to axe the annual NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) test, postponed last year due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
"NAPLAN has been plagued by a lack of credibility with teachers and parents for years,'' she said.
"It is time for the Federal Government to scrap NAPLAN for good and replace it with a new sample-based assessment strategy that has students and teachers at its heart.''
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has defended NAPLAN as "absolutely fundamental and a critical part of providing information for parents, teachers and accountability mechanisms''.
NAPLAN, introduced a decade ago, tests every student in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to measure literacy and numeracy.
Newspapers and some private schools have traditionally published tables ranking schools' NAPLAN scores, so parents and principals can easily see which schools have the highest and lowest results, and which have improved or fallen behind.
But the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has now banned the compilation or publication of "league tables'' by third parties, following a decision revealed by the nation's education ministers last year.
Ms Haythorpe praised the decision, saying that "damaging'' rankings had put "unnecessary pressure'' on students and teachers.
"The teaching profession has long opposed the publication of league tables based on NAPLAN results, as NAPLAN was never intended to be used for the public comparison of results of individual schools,'' she said.
"The publication of NAPLAN league tables is damaging to school communities.
"NAPLAN places unnecessary pressure on our children, their families and teachers and does not take into account the high quality, broad curriculum and learning experience that our schools provide.
"Publishing NAPLAN rankings only compounds this pressure on students and teachers.''
The Centre for Independent Studies has slammed the secrecy over NAPLAN rankings as "dragging us back to the education dark ages''.
Under the changes, parents and principals can no longer see how their school compares against other schools of a similar size and socio-economic background, after ACARA ditched its comparison of every school against 60 "similar schools'' across the country.
Instead, each school will now be compared to the average NAPLAN score of all students across Australia with a similar background, taking into account their location, parental income and whether they are Indigenous.
Parents who want to see how schools compares will have to look each one up individually on the My School website, instead of referring to simpler tables compiled by third parties.
ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said yesterday that NAPLAN would be undertaken as usual this May, unless a school has been closed due to COVID-19.
"NAPLAN monitors whether or not young Australians are developing the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for other learning and for their productive and rewarding participation in the community,'' he said.
"The test provides schools, states and territories with information that can be used to evaluate how education approaches are working, the areas to be prioritised for improvement, and those schools requiring support in the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy.''
Mr Carvalho said parents could still compare school performance on the My School NAPLAN website.
He said an additional measure of student progress was added to My School in March last year.
"This change gives greater focus to progress rather than on statistically similar schools and is presented in a way that is fair and easy to understand,'' he said.
The Teachers' Professional Association of Queensland - a rival to the Queensland Teachers' Union - called on education ministers to reverse the ban on league tables.
"Keeping lists secret is an insult to parents,'' TPAQ state secretary Jack McGuire said yesterday.
"For all its imperfections, NAPLAN is a good diagnostic tool.''
Originally published as 'Unnecessary pressure': Teachers demand NAPLAN be axed