NAPLAN changes might be coming

By Alex Gretgrix

THE Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and ACT governments have released the interim report for their independent joint review of NAPLAN and they’ve found changes need to be made.

The report sets out the major issues with the test as identified during an initial consultation round.

It also includes preliminary ideas for addressing these issues.

Major issues identified in the report include the increased stakes of NAPLAN and related impacts, such as school comparisons, and the inability of NAPLAN to provide meaningful information about the level of achievement for both high and low performing students.

“The status quo is not an option for NAPLAN and we are prepared to make whatever changes are needed,” Minister for Education James Merlino said.

“We will always need some form of standardised test – but what I have heard very clearly when I visit schools is that NAPLAN has lost the support of much of the teaching workforce and that simply isn’t good enough.”

The report also identifies concerns about the timing of the test, as the significant delay between students sitting the test and receiving the results means that schools have limited opportunity to use the results to improve student learning outcomes.

The report identifies a number of potential changes for further discussion including:

● Shifting the timing of the assessment from May to earlier in the year so that results can be better used to inform decisions about future curriculum and teaching choices.

● Changing the school years that tests are administered from the current years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

● Reviewing test content, particularly the writing assessment, to ensure that it tests students for meaningful and useful skills.

● Limiting the availability of test data so it is less likely to be used to make unfair comparisons between schools.

“We need a test that has the support and engagement of the teaching workforce, parents and students and that is why we need to make significant changes,” Mr Merlino said.

The issues and possible changes identified in the interim report are intended to guide further work in the new year, when the panel will undertake further detailed consultations and seek written submissions.

The panel will present their final report by mid-2020.