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NAPLAN misuse

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 1 May 2014
  • The following letter was published in The Courier-Mail of Thursday 1 May 2014 with the underlined sections deleted. It was one of three letters in response to an opinion piece by Christopher Bantick which were grouped under the heading "NAPLAN fails the real learning test".

The gist of Christopher Bantick’s articles often seems to be that he is pretty much the only competent English (sorry, senior literature) teacher in the country and all others need to lift their games. He is, however, spot on about NAPLAN (“Cheats thrive and NAPLAN prospers”, 30/4).

When Julia Gillard became federal education minister she was apparently miffed when told that there was no easy way of knowing which were the best schools in the land. NAPLAN was born out of a desire to have a simple school rating system, but the tests are not capable of doing this and making them high stakes has damaged rather than improved the nation’s school system. But hey, what does that matter if a senior politician could claim a signature reform?

It is unlikely that this waste of public funds will stop any time soon but, at the very least, politicians and bureaucrats should stop telling fibs about NAPLAN providing diagnostic information that is useful to teachers. Apart from other problems, the time frame doesn’t allow that.

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
Tags: Assessment

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