Fatal error creates NAPLAN “blue screen”

QTU President's comment 27 August 2018

Anyone who has experienced the dreaded “blue screen” on their computer knows that they are in for a whole lot of pain as something has gone very, very wrong.

With the 2018 NAPLAN results to be released this week, new independent research on the shambolic test process has declared that the data is worthless.

The report, Problems in the Design and Administration of the 2018 NAPLAN, by respected academics Les Perelman, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor Walt Haney, Boston College, has found that the “incomparable” data and “fatal error” in this year’s NAPLAN Online trial meant that “the 2018 NAPLAN results should be discarded”.

Teachers, principals and their unions joined many community voices in raising concerns about NAPLAN. We called for a full review of NAPLAN before launching into a new test format and platform. Queensland teachers went so far as to ban the online version of the NAPLAN test to bring attention to mounting concerns about NAPLAN. A ban on involvement in the online version of the 2019 NAPLAN remains in place in Queensland, and will only be lifted if the concerns are fully addressed.

These now validated concerns were ignored by the previous federal minister. The new Federal Education Minister has the opportunity to reboot the federal government’s approach to the portfolio and can demonstrate genuine regard for the teaching profession, and the unions that are their voice, by immediately implementing a comprehensive, independent national review of NAPLAN as a whole.

In contrast, the Queensland state government listened to the concerns of teachers, principals and parents and has commenced its own independent review of NAPLAN. The Australian Catholic University is currently engaged in wide-scale consultation with teachers, principals, parents and education stakeholders to produce a report on the impacts of NAPLAN in Queensland.

The recent government leadership events in Canberra have overshadowed the growing anger in education communities about the massive failure of the 2018 NAPLAN process. The recovery process cannot simply be a reload of the pre-existing NAPLAN regime.  The failed NAPLAN Online experiment is the latest in a long list of negative outcomes since the tests were introduced 10 years ago; this high-stakes testing regime has come with so many “unintended consequences” that it is time for NAPLAN to be closely and openly examined.

Public confidence in NAPLAN is in tatters. The best response is an honest assessment of what has gone wrong and a deep engagement across the community on a new process for the future. Anything less will simply magnify the justifiable angst felt by the teaching profession and the community.

Kevin Bates

QTU President's comments:

QTU President Kevin Bates takes an initial look at what’s in the Budget for education and educators
A budget day unlike any other

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