Is NAPLAN failing our students?

Is NAPLAN working to improve school education?

While NAPLAN testing is over this year, the results show that there have been virtually no improvements across the board – a bad sign for the education standard. CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Rob Randall told ABC news that this was not at all what they were hoping for.

"Ideally we would like to see such improvements at the national level across years three, five, seven and nine."

No improvements despite low benchmarks

Speaking to Australian Financial Review, School Education Director at the Grattan Institute drew attention to the fact that the achievement benchmarks are just set too low to properly lift the education level in our schools. For instance, research from the Grattan Institute suggests that the minimum standard for numeracy at year 9 is actually closer to what should be expected from a year five. With this in mind, the fact that 95.4 per cent of year 9 students met the numeracy minimum standard actually adds weight to the notion that these standards need to be revised.

Easy achievement standards do not encourage better performance.Easy achievement standards do not encourage better performance.

"We need to focus on evidence-based measures that will get results for our students," he said. "[This year's] results once again show that, despite significant funding growth, we are not getting sufficient improvements in student outcomes. It's a significant concern given that Australia has been heavily focused on lifting literacy and numeracy for some years."

NAPLAN overstretched as a performance indicator

According an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald by Co-Chairman of the Review of the National Curriculum, Kenneth Wiltshire, it comes down to the way the education framework has been written – difficult to understand yet too simplistic to facilitate meaningful insights.

"[NAPLAN results] starts to get used as a measure of how good a school is or how good a teacher is."

President of the Parents and Citizens Federation Jason Vials told ABC news that there is a lot of room for improvement, especially around the way many schools prioritise this as an important indicator of success.

"NAPLAN was originally designed as a diagnostic tool, basically to identify where our kids are at in terms of their education [and] identify if there are any issues that need to be dealt with," he said, "and we have no problem with that."

"The issue we've always had with NAPLAN is that it starts to get used as a measure of how good a school is or how good a teacher is. And really it's a very poor use for that sort of thing."

If you are concerned that your school is overstretching the relevance of NAPLAN results, then investing in education tools for teachers and administrators that can broaden your ability to analyse student data may be the solution. Get in touch with Best Performance to find out more today.

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