This week we will take a brief look at the pros and cons of NAPLAN which this year will run from 12 to 14 May. There seems to be a lot of conflicting opinions about NAPLAN and its worth in both the education profession and wider general community. On one hand it is seen as offering useful information to students, parents, schools and government and on the other, it may be thought of as a disproportionate influence on school curriculum and student learning. I guess like most issues, the truth can be found somewhere between the extremes. I strongly believe that taken in the right context and used in the right way, the information gained from NAPLAN testing is invaluable to schools. At the conclusion of test marking, we receive information pertaining to how our Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students have performed in relation to Australian Curriculum in the areas of Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation and Numeracy. The fact that NAPLAN is aligned with Australian Curriculum via the NAPLAN assessment framework is often missed in the debate. These reports allow us to track not only individual students, but whole cohort data also allows us to identify and address areas of common misunderstandings of Australian Curriculum. As a teacher, I find this data vital, but it is used in conjunction with other diagnostic, formative and summative assessment to create a whole school data story. The question of whether it is productive to then publish each school’s data via the ‘My School’ website is another matter altogether. NAPLAN is currently under a cross-jurisdictional review with a final report due in June. It will be interesting to see what recommendations are made. Further information abut NAPLAN can be found on the NAP website.
Dr John Fry
Dean of Senior Studies