Much-needed changes to NAPLAN are being implemented

Central Coast Council of P&Cs (CCCPC) has welcomed the news that NSW is “leading the charge” in implementing “much-needed” changes to NAPLAN.

State Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, said this week that she was pleased that work was progressing in line with the review initiated by NSW in 2019 and released in 2020.

Mitchell said improvements were gaining momentum, with Education Ministers from around Australia recently agreeing to progress work on several recommendations from the review.

“This will include investigating the feasibility of conducting the test earlier in the year, providing the results to schools within two weeks, and incorporating critical and creative thinking,” Mitchell said.

She said the changes were another positive step forward on the road to creating a fit for purpose national diagnostic test.

“There are fundamental flaws with NAPLAN in its current form,” she said.

“My goal has always been to see a modern and effective national standardised assessment tool that will help students and teachers and raise education standards nationwide.

“NAPLAN was cancelled last year due to COVID, disrupting the data set and presenting an opportunity to make important changes.

“It is essential that Australia has a robust and modern diagnostic test that is fit for purpose and I’m pleased that Education Ministers have agreed to work towards these changes.”

Agreements made include: the writing test will continue to be conducted as a census test; testing of spelling, grammar and punctuation (Conventions of Language) will be separate from writing as part of the annual census based standardised assessment program; The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will work with jurisdictions to explore the feasibility of shifting of the test as early as possible in the school year and turn around test results in two weeks; and, the assessments will remain in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

The Ministers also agreed in principle to enabling schools to “opt-in” to assessments in the domains of Science Literacy (including critical and creative thinking), Digital Literacy and Civics and Citizenship annually in Year 6 and Year 10, and request that ACARA further develop the proposal for their next meeting.

They also agreed that ACARA should investigate the feasibility of incorporating critical and creative thinking in English and Mathematics into the existing NAPLAN domains, with advice to be provided to the next Education Ministers’ Meeting.

Central Coast Council of P&Cs (CCCPC) President, Sharryn Brownlee, said that it was a “great step forward” to see ACARA looking at holding the test earlier in the year, and ensuring the results are back to schools and parents within a few weeks.

“NAPLAN was originally designed as a national diagnostic test to ensure that no students slipped through the cracks and also to be accountable to tax payers and Federal Treasury for funds,” Brownlee said.

“It is important that it remains relevant and valued by students, staff and families.

“We await the details of the ‘opt-in’ to assessments to see how it is implemented and that no students are disadvantaged.”

Terry Collins