22 August 2015
NAPLAN have released preliminary statistics for this year’s testing.
While theoretically it’s great to have data which could be well used to help decide what actions are needed to improve outcomes at national, state, school and individual levels, our main gripes with NAPLAN remain: the many weeks schools divert from regular curriculum to ‘teach to the test’ not only wastes time but manipulates results, decreasing their worth.
In this regard, ideally, NAPLAN would be sprung on schools at any time with little warning. Having no preparation time would mean a truer measure of the situation at all levels, as well as no wasted weeks of test prep.
This year, more Queensland students than ever sat out of the testing.
While in some cases it is appropriate for particular students not to sit the test, such as severe test anxiety, it is also true that many of those who sat out are those who would be expected not to achieve high scores.
At a school and state level, if particularly low-achieving students are left out, a school’s average will appear higher than in reality.
On an individual level, I’ve spoken to students who have been told, without explanation, that they won’t be sitting the test. Whatever the school’s reasoning, the students are wholly under the impression that it is because they are ‘dumb’.
It’s another psychological blow to the dwindling confidence of already disillusioned students.
Besides this, the students who could most benefit from it miss out on the diagnostic value of the testing to show strengths and weaknesses in the learning areas.