What does a NAPLAN ban actually look like?
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 7, 2 October 2020, page no.11
As I write this article, QTU members are voting on whether to implement a ban of NAPLAN. You may ask though, what does a ban on NAPLAN actually mean for me?
If a directive is issued, it will mean that schools are not to do any planning, preparation, information gathering, readiness testing, provision of EQ IDs, timetabling of labs, sample testing – anything that is or could be associated with the implementation of NAPLAN and the broader National Assessment Program (NAP) in 2021.
As we know, as a result of COVID-19, the Education Council cancelled NAPLAN for the 2020 year. The sky has not fallen in. Teachers and school leaders are still accountable for the academic achievement of the students in their schools. The system still has accountability requirements, which can still be met despite NAPLAN not happening.
Not doing NAPLAN in 2020 and 2021 will simply mean that you can get on with doing your job: teaching and facilitating the learning of the students in your classrooms and your schools each and every day.
This is an opportunity to reframe the discussion on assessment in your schools. What data do you actually require to evaluate a student’s progress and provide feedback on areas of need in learning and development?
Sadly, the final report of the cross-jurisdictional 2020 NAPLAN Review did not reflect what many teachers, school leaders, parents, students, academics, some media outlets and many members of the community know: NAPLAN has passed its use-by date.
Replacing NAPLAN with the proposed new Australian National Standardised Assessment, an extended, higher stakes standardised testing regime that tinkers at the edges, is not the answer (ANSA)!
The Education Council considered the review report on 4 September, and the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan blocked any action in response proposed by the state and territory Ministers. That is the way Education Council works, all nine individual Ministers have the right of veto and the Federal Minister has regularly used this veto power to frustrate change in education policy supported by the states and territories. The Federal Minister says that conversations about the form and function of NAPLAN can only happen after everyone has moved to NAPLAN Online.
We now face a default position, based on previous Education Council decisions, involving a renewed push for all schools across Australia to be transitioned to NAPLAN Online by 2022.
Enough is enough.
Implementing NAPLAN in 2022, via the online platform or by any other means, is not acceptable.
Not implementing NAPLAN in 2021 will create time and space in schools, an opportunity to consult within your school community on the best way forward. We must begin to develop a test that is teacher led and developed, that is properly aligned to the curriculum, that is authentic and that genuinely informs the teaching and learning cycle. Wouldn’t that be a good place to start?
What we do not want is a testing regime under which multinational companies develop tests to market materials that “support students”, but which in reality lead to reducing the scope of the curriculum even further and less and less control and professional autonomy for teachers and school leaders in supporting the outcomes of the students in our schools.
Enough is enough.
No student will be worse off for attending a NAPLAN-free school. Teachers and school leaders will be able to focus on teaching, leading and student learning. Parents will continue to be fully informed of their child’s progress through two written reports and two face-to-face meeting opportunities per year. Schools, teachers and principals will continue to meet the expectations of the complex and comprehensive legal and bureaucratic frameworks that bind all education systems.
Enough is enough.
Keep up to date at https://www.qtu.asn.au/naplan