Explanation required over NAPLAN Online debacle

Parents and teachers need immediate explanation over NAPLAN online debacle

MEDIA RELEASE Wednesday 8 August, 2018

Simon Birmingham defends NAPLAN in a Channel 9 Darwin story aired on 7 August 2018

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham needs to provide an immediate explanation to parents and teachers over how significant the problems are with the NAPLAN online data.

According to a media report, summary results for this year’s NAPLAN assessment were due to be released today but have been delayed with concerns the online test results cannot be compared to the results from the paper tests. Around one million students sat NAPLAN tests in May with almost 200,000 doing the test online for the first time.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said Min. Birmingham had been repeatedly warned that the online and paper test results could not be compared and that he had a lot of explaining to do.

“Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has said numerous times that the rollout of NAPLAN online has been a ‘roaring success’. If this is his idea of success I’d hate to see failure,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“According to reports, the NAPLAN online report is being held back due to concerns over the reputational risk to ACARA. What about the minister’s concerns about the 200,000 students who are victims of this fiasco? This is a disaster.”

“This is just not good enough. Min. Birmingham needs to explain what has gone wrong with the NAPLAN online trial, whether the data collected is invalid, why this has happened, exactly how many students are affected and what he plans to do to salvage this debacle,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This outcome is incredibly embarrassing for Min. Birmingham and for the Turnbull government. They went against the advice of the teaching profession in going down the NAPLAN online path and now we have reports of 200,000 online assessments being ‘invalid’.”

‘If this is Simon Birmingham’s idea of success I’d hate to see failure.’

“Parents and teachers deserve an explanation as to what has happened. The NAPLAN test is a stressful experience for both students and teachers and the last thing they want to hear is that the results have somehow been corrupted,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“If media reports today are incorrect and nothing is wrong with the NAPLAN online data, then Min. Birmingham should release the NAPLAN report immediately.”

Ms Haythorpe said that a teacher’s assessment of their student was preferable to any standardised NAPLAN assessment.

“NAPLAN places unnecessary pressure on our children, their families and teachers and does not take into account the high quality, broad curriculum and learning experience that our schools provide,” said Ms Haythorpe.

“The best form of assessment is the informed judgment of a teacher. Teachers make sure the full range of factors influencing a child’s learning are considered, and conduct a variety of learning assessments.

“A child’s education can simply not be encapsulated as a number in a spreadsheet – we need a much more holistic assessment process which is connected to the daily learning that occurs in our schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said the AEU had warned the federal government last year that the NAPLAN online concept was flawed and that it must be scrapped.

‘The best form of assessment is the informed judgment of a teacher.’

“Many schools in regional and rural areas do not have reliable internet connections, and students from low socio-economic areas often don’t have the same level of access to technology as others. Putting these students in a situation where they must sit the test online is unfair and will simply serve to measure the different levels of technology-proficiency,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“If states go ahead with the implementation of NAPLAN online thousands of students in our schools will be put at a severe disadvantage. Every state and territory education minister must act to protect students by stopping the implementation of the online test and engage in consultation with the profession about the issues.

“NAPLAN online is fundamentally flawed and must not be implemented. We call on every state and territory education minister to put the needs of every student first by scrapping the move to computer-based testing,” said Ms Haythorpe.