NAPLAN needs ditching not a redesign, report finds
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 4, 28 May 2021, page no.11
Australia needs a new national assessment system that puts students’ interests first rather than reforms to the current NAPLAN system, according to a new report from the Gonski Institute for Education.
“Putting Students First: Moving on from NAPLAN to a new educational assessment system” recommends significant changes to national assessments, including scrapping the current census approach to testing and replacing it with sample-based testing of students across Australia, led by teachers.
The report proposes a hybrid national assessment system be developed to address teaching and learning, parent reporting and monitoring purposes. The system would help address the negative consequences to some students of too much pressure to compete in standardised tests, particularly at young ages.
The sample-based assessment method, which is used in many other countries, allows governments to monitor education system performance without the often-harmful side effects of census-based tests to students and schools. It is also more cost-effective, allowing governments to shift resources from testing to support teaching and learning in schools.
The report also recommends different types of assessments for student, school and parental information purposes and sample-based standardised tests for governments’ system monitoring and accountability purposes. Parents would receive better information about their children’s learning performance across multiple curriculum areas as part of the sweeping recommendations.
A key recommendation is to replace the current multi-purpose census-based literacy and numeracy testing in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 with sample-based assessments in years 4, 6, 8 and 10 to better monitor education system performance, complemented by formative teacher-led assessments in schools to inform students, schools and parents about students’ performance and growth.
The new national assessment system would also include more regular and detailed reporting to parents through a validated, formative classroom-based Assessment Resource System (ARS), including a national library of quality assessment tasks for Year 3 through Year 10 that are linked to the curriculum and the teaching in schools.
The report is available at https://www.gie.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/Putting%20Students%20First_final.pdf