Ban or no ban - the campaign to abolish NAPLAN in its current form goes on
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 2, 12 March 2021, page no. 9
Last year, NAPLAN testing was cancelled due to the pandemic. The year before that, the test was plagued with glitches and outages causing the stress levels of students and teachers to rise. Will we still be grappling with these issues in five years’ time? When will it end?
This year, schools are faced with similar uncertainty, with Education Ministers deciding late last year that if a school had not been closed due to COVID-19, then NAPLAN would be undertaken by all eligible students who are present at the school on that day. At the same meeting, Ministers decided that the form public reporting of NAPLAN 2021 results would take would not be resolved until after the test results were finalised. Is this a bet each way? If the test fails this year, public criticism will be swift and brutal.
The Federal Education Minister steadfastly refuses to agree to an independent review of NAPLAN, despite repeated calls from academia, teachers, and parents. State education ministers in four states last year commissioned their own review of NAPLAN, which tinkered at the edges and was roundly rejected by stakeholders, as well as the Federal Education Minister.
In the meantime, we continue to see the unintended consequences of the now entrenched NAPLAN test.
The QTU negotiated a NAPLAN Joint Statement with the Department of Education to deal with some of the issues that have been caused by more than 10 years of relentless NAPLAN testing.
This states that:
- your school should not require a student’s NAPLAN results upon enrolment.
- you should not have to administer a year 3 NAPLAN test for students at the end of year 2
- you should not have to participate in a practice test in Term 1 in preparation for the test period in Term 2
- your school should not be giving awards to students for outstanding performance in NAPLAN
- you should not be asked to provide your class NAPLAN data in any APR conversations.
Parents and caregivers can choose to withdraw their child from NAPLAN testing, and more parents are doing so every year. NAPLAN is a choice, it is not mandatory for children to participate. NAPLAN does little to support the academic or social growth of students.
Sadly, teachers and school leaders are not free from the high stakes testing regime imposed on students in May every year. While participation in practice tests in the lead up to the NAPLAN test period is encouraged by the department, members have the right to be consulted about the impact on their workload of these additional requirements.
The QTU’s policy position, endorsed by more than 250 delegates at QTU Biennial Conference in 2019, representing members in branches all over Queensland, is that NAPLAN be abolished.
Members who voted in the ballot last year to ban NAPLAN, voted overwhelming to support the ban on all NAPLAN related activities. Unfortunately, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission ordered the Union to remove the directive banning NAPLAN. However, the community campaign to abolish NAPLAN in its current form will continue.
In early March, the QTU was due to send members a NAPLAN survey, which will help shape the future direction of the campaign and QTU policy.
Members know that it will take a courageous government to acknowledge that NAPLAN’s days are numbered, that our students deserve a better deal, and that teachers and school leaders can do so much more with the millions of dollars spent on the planning, preparation, and administration of NAPLAN every year.
The NAPLAN campaign will continue, because, as we all know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!