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NAPLAN's limitations

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 2 July 2015

An edited version of the following letter was published in The Australian on Wednesday 24 June 2015. Underlined words were delted and bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Could do better".

NAPLAN's limitations

Kevin Donnelly is right to draw attention to NAPLAN's limitations ("NAPLAN's flaws and limitations mean it fails exam", June 23).

If the program were genuinely beneficial for school education, we could surely expect to see the results trending up and our international performance as measured by PISA (the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment) doing likewise. This is not the case. Instead, NAPLAN results are stable and PISA results are trending down.

Part of the problem is probably that NAPLAN results are invested with more meaning than they deserve. In  addition, the associated national obsession with school choice fuelled by the My School website, does not adequately focus on the quality of education received by all Australian students, as opposed to a privileged minority in a small number of so-called "top" schools.

In an ACARA newsletter earlier (The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive officer early) this year, its CEO opined that we should move on from the debate about NAPLAN. Better yet would be to move on from NAPLAN itself.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Author: Garry Collins, AATE President
About: Garry Collins is the Immediate Past President of ETAQ and began a 2 year term as AATE President on 1 January 2014. A retired high school English teacher, he now works in the School of Education at the University of Queensland as a sessional tutor in English curriculum courses.
Tags: Assessment

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