Public calls to review NAPLAN have reverberated across the nation, and today’s announcement by the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP of Labor backing such a review is a welcome acknowledgement of the teaching profession’s concerns.
Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the high-pressure standardised NAPLAN testing does not create a world-class learning environment but instead imposes an unnecessary additional burden on students and teachers, and waste valuable face-to-face teaching time.
Ms Haythorpe said that priority should instead be placed on ensuring that all schools receive the funding and resources needed to deliver for students and raise student outcomes.
“Labor’s call to back a review of NAPLAN is a positive step in the right direction,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“It was the AEU which first called for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN, and this call has been taken up by principal associations, state-based parent groups and some education ministers”, Ms Haythorpe said.
“After a decade of this failed testing regime, we need to critically analyse the impact of standardised testing and we need to implement assessment processes which are intricately linked with teaching and learning in our schools, not just used for system data collection purposes.”
“The best form of assessment is the informed judgment of a teacher”, Ms Haythorpe said. “Teachers make sure the full range of factors influencing a child’s learning are considered, and conduct a variety of learning assessments.
“Schools need proper funding and resources, not one-size-fits-all NAPLAN tests, to lift results and achievement levels,” Ms Haythorpe said.
A survey of teachers by the AEU completed late last year found more than half of teachers surveyed felt they spent too much time preparing for and administering standardised tests.
Sixty-two per cent reported that the publication of NAPLAN data has led to a ‘greater focus on preparing for the test including pre-testing’ and 55 per cent said that it has led to a ‘reduced focus on other areas of the curriculum’.
Sixty-three per cent reported an increase in student stress levels in the lead-up to the NAPLAN test.
“Focussing on needs-based funding instead of standardised testing will ensure that every child will be given the opportunity to learn,” Ms Haythorpe said.
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