NAPLAN Online – no requirement to participate until 2021
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 7, 27 September 2019, page no. 8
The release of the 2019 NAPLAN results again highlighted the need for a national review into this test regime.
The media was quick to highlight Queensland’s supposed shortfalls, without recognising that these tests do not offer the best insight into students’ progress or the tendency for long-term standardised testing to result in a plateau in student achievement. The QTU is also eager to learn how students who experienced technical difficulties during testing were able to receive accurate results.
Despite Education Minister Grace Grace’s decision to delay the mandatory transition to NAPLAN Online until 2021, schools are still feeling pressured to engage in online preparation and training. Delegates at the 2019 QTU Biennial Conference resolved that members are best placed to judge if their school is ready to participate in NAPLAN Online testing and/or training, and that following consultation with members, Union Reps may seek a directive from the QTU not to participate. At present, two schools have sought directives, however, a number of other workplaces have contacted the QTU for advice and others have informed the QCAA they will not be participating, without requiring a directive.
NAPLAN Three State Review
The terms of reference have been released for the review into NAPLAN by the Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian State Governments. The review will:
- determine what the objectives for standardised testing in Australia should be, given its evolution over time
- assess how well-placed NAPLAN is to meet these objectives
- consider the key objectives, uses and features of effective national assessment programs internationally, and how the objectives and performance of NAPLAN compare
- identify targeted improvements that can be made to standardised testing in Australia in the short term, including the level of school and student engagement, so it better meets the objectives above
- identify longer-term objectives, uses and features of standardised testing in Australia within the context of a future national assessment landscape
- consider, in line with these objectives, longer-term improvements that can be made to ensure that Australia has the most efficient and effective system for assessing key literacy and numeracy outcomes at the national level.
An interim report will be provided to the Education Council in December, with the final report expected in June 2020. In the absence of a comprehensive federal review, this tri-state review will provide valuable direction in the debate around the continuation of NAPLAN in its current form.
ACARA NAPLAN item trial
Each year, schools across Australia are selected to trial test items under consideration for future NAPLAN tests. The process requires 25 students from years three, five, seven and nine to complete two online literacy or numeracy tests (except in year three, where students may be required to complete a pencil and paper writing test). Engagement with this process is voluntary and schools may decline to participate or seek a directive from the QTU, if required.
NAPLAN Reporting Review
In June, the COAG Education Council released its NAPLAN Reporting Review, prepared by William Louden, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Western Australia. The theme permeating through the report was the contention between school/system transparency and the risk of misuse of NAPLAN data. The report could not conclude any relationship between data transparency and student outcomes.
Findings aligned with the QTU’s concerns that NAPLAN data is used for different purposes by stakeholders and that there is no set understanding of the purpose of NAPLAN or the test results. Many stakeholders mentioned concerns about the misuse of test data contributing to the high-stakes nature of the tests.
Concerningly, one recommendation was to further investigate initiatives on learning progressions and formative assessment tools, to improve the timeliness and diagnostic quality of assessments available to schools. The QTU continues to advocate that schools, through consultation with members, are best equipped to make decisions about assessment instruments, as is necessary when developing and/or reviewing data plans. Furthermore, as professionals, teachers capably track students’ understandings and skills in a variety of ways without the need to record individual student learning progressions. The requirement to assess, record and report student learning progressions would be highly detrimental to teacher workload reduction – the number one priority of the QTU.