National anger at NAPLAN Online fail
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 5, 5 July 2019, page no. 8
Based on a commitment by the Department of Education to act on the findings of the Queensland Review of NAPLAN, the QTU lifted the ban on NAPLAN Online to allow schools to participate in the testing. However, not long after the online test window opened on 14 May the cracks began to appear.
Many students across Australia experienced problems with connectivity to the browser, or difficulties logging in, while others were being repeatedly disconnected. The 15 second auto-save function failed to work properly and students’ work in the writing test dropped off the screen, causing undue stress.
Schools in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia were the worst affected, prompting the new CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) David Carvalho to announce a national review of the technical administration of the online test.
In Queensland, around 82 schools were affected, primarily in the Catholic and independent sectors. The impact on the wellbeing of those students who did encounter problems, however, should not be diminished. The QTU received reports anecdotally that students were frustrated at losing their work, particularly on the writing test.
By the end of the first week, officials from around the country were holding crisis meetings, which determined that affected students should get the opportunity to re-sit the test on Tuesday 28 May, a move that was not supported by the QTU. During the re-sit, further problems were encountered when, for some students, the timer was not reset appropriately, adding further to the angst and frustration of students and teachers around the nation.
On 25 May, Queensland Education Minster Grace Grace released a media statement calling for a delay in the full roll-out of NAPLAN Online, due to occur in 2020.
Delegates at the QTU’s May State Council moved a motion of support for the Minister’s actions and renewed the call for a full and comprehensive review of the NAPLAN test. Education Ministers from other states have also supported the delay. A decision was due to be made by consensus at the meeting of the Education Council on 28 June.
If the decision is not to delay, delegates at QTU Conference will determine if the QTU will re-issue the ban on NAPLAN Online in 2020.
The QTU continues to call on the federal government to undertake a full and comprehensive review of the NAPLAN pen and paper test, as it is high time that the current test was reviewed and replaced.
One of the conditions for the QTU lifting the ban on NAPLAN Online was the commitment to act on the findings of the Queensland NAPLAN Review. QTU Officers are due to meet with officers of the Department of Education to commence the task of reviewing the NAPLAN Joint Statement and the Joint Statement on the Use and Purpose of Data in Queensland State Schools.