No go for NAPLAN online

Queensland has led the way in determining that NAPLAN online testing is a no-go for 2017. 

Following extensive trialling of the platform on a range of school managed devices, including BYO devices and iPads, by teams of specialist ICT staff and department personnel, as well as intense preparation by teachers, NAPLAN coordinators and principals in the 68 pilot schools, Education Minister Kate Jones decided to pull Queensland out of the online testing.

This was due to a number of unresolved technical issues which could not be fixed prior to the start of April. Minister Jones took the position to a meeting of Education Ministers at the Education Council meeting in Hobart on 5 April, and within a week, all other states that were intending to commence online testing this year followed Queensland’s lead and pulled out of the online testing for 2017. Consequently, in all states and territories of Australia, the test was undertaken in pen and paper form only this year. The QTU strongly endorses the Minster’s decision to withdraw Queensland from an online test that was not ready to go.

A range of issues were identified, including maths fractions taking a long time to display, while some images did not appear at all. In one test, answers that were previously entered were being lost as the questions jumped forward, much to the frustration of the testers. In another instance, images from one question on the test continued to stay on the screen, obscuring data for the next question. While these issues were annoying to the testers on a small scale trial, replicated on a large scale in pilot schools such technological glitches would have increased anxiety levels for both students and teachers attempting to complete the online test within the designated time limits.

At the time of writing, a further 397 Queensland schools have nominated for the 2018 pilot. These schools, together with the 68 pilot schools from 2017, will participate in platform readiness testing in September. The QTU, a branch of the national education union, the AEU, will be closely monitoring the progress of the online test in preparation for testing in 2018. Members who have concerns about any aspect of the platform readiness testing should contact the QTU.

Leah Mertens                                                                                                                     QTU Rep on the NAPLAN Online Reference Group

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 4, 2 June 2017, p8