More Tests – Less Improvement

Much has been said recently about Australia’s downward slide in global academic rankings. Is it a coincidence that this academic spiral coincides with a greater emphasis on NAPLAN? Now the federal solution to Australia’s falling standards is to propose national testing of year one students.

Sound thinking? Not when you consider the following: Most countries that have outperformed Australia at benchmark primary levels DO NOT rely on standardised assessment. (NAPLAN has never been accused of being diagnostic.) To exemplify international views on compulsory primary testing, the following higher ranked countries really put into question Australia’s “big stick” approach:

  • Singapore starts testing in 6th grade. This is for secondary school placement;
  • Korea conducts a diagnostic test in Korean and maths for 6th grade students;
  • Hong Kong does not nationally test primary school students;
  • China only has an entrance exam for lower secondary school;
  • Japan starts testing in 6th grade; a diagnostic test in Japanese and maths;
  • Finland starts sample testing in 6th grade for monitoring purposes.

….. and so the list could continue. Sadly, in Australia the pressure on schools and stress on students continues, with no measurable improvement in global academic rankings since NAPLAN was introduced in 2008. Only now the plan seems to be to stress and label from year one, without any mention of funding to reverse our global ranking.

What was it that Albert Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? That’s right, he defined it as insanity!

I wonder how many politicians have recognised tertiary qualifications in education. Wait – what intelligence test or entrance exam is needed to become a federal politician?

Now to test your understanding of the above comments, please complete the following test.

Question One: (Choose only one answer)

What is the minimum requirement to enter the Australian Federal Parliament?

a)     Successful completion of primary school

b)    A qualification of some type

c)    Informed understanding of students’ needs

d)   None of the above

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