What Is Wrong With NAPLAN (Part 1)

“It is a ready-made solution to a bureaucrat’s dream of imposing control on a massive system.” (Dr James Athanasou quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald)

In 2008, the Federal Government introduced NAPLAN as a mean’s of instilling public confidence in a failing education system. Purported to be about quality control and improving educational standards, NAPLAN has been used as a national funding lever to control each state and territory.

In turn NAPLAN has become a competition between states and through the My School website, schools find themselves competing against other schools, without any logical moderation for clientèle.

This has created an unhealthy educational climate that is focussed on pressuring teachers to improve the results of students in low NAPLAN bands. (No magic wands are provided.) At the same time, high achieving students are being dumbed down to allow the others to catch up. 2012 NAPLAN results show that about 20% of year 3 pupils were in the highest band for reading. At year 9 only 4% were in the highest band. Similar deterioration was seen to apply in spelling, writing, numeracy and grammar.

Transparent assessment and reporting is a foundation stone in quality teaching and learning. Sadly, NAPLAN does not deliver on this. What are your thoughts?

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