Parents and teachers are calling for a review of NAPLAN after the latest results showed students’ performance has only improved marginally since the tests were first introduced a decade ago.
- Reading, numeracy improved since 2008 but writing declined since 2011
- Union says “it’s time to have a conversation about the importance of assessment”
- Many independent schools question why every student needs to be tested
Across the country, there’s been a 3.52 per cent improvement in reading and a 2.55 per cent increase in numeracy since the tests were first held in 2008.
That has not impressed Sydney mother-of-three Michelle Joosse.
“I would probably hope we’d get that in a year or two, but 10 years — it’s not a huge increase considering education is a big focus and we’re always comparing ourselves with overseas,” she said.
Two of her children have already done NAPLAN and Ms Joosse appreciates being able to see how they perform compared to other students.
While she is happy with her children’s results, she expected better national outcomes given the resources put into the program.
Ms Joosse wants governments to take a look at what is going wrong.
“They keep talking about [how] they’re putting more money into education, we want to know why we’re not getting the results we’re expecting,” she said.
Writing has actually gone backwards in recent years, which federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said was a worry.
“We need to make sure we focus on developing those writing skills and that will be a core topic of my conversations with state and territory ministers,” he said.
Conversation needed about importance of assessment: union
Many also want a conversation about the nature of the NAPLAN test themselves.
The Australian Education Union said NAPLAN had not told schools very much about their students’ achievements in comparison with what they knew before national testing began 10 years ago.
“It’s time to have a conversation about the importance of assessment and reporting,” the union’s federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said.
“We believe in rigorous assessment processes but we don’t believe in a narrow, over-simplified test which provides an incomplete picture of what’s happening in our schools.”
Many independent schools have questioned why every student needs to be tested.
Instead, they argue, testing a representative sample would give governments the information they need, without creating the problems attributed to NAPLAN.
“Sample tests don’t lead to parents going out buying test booklets, or complaints about stress related to that testing, nor teaching to those tests in schools, but could still give the Australian Government a sense of how students are progressing,” Beth Blackwood, from the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, said.