Double dipping in NAPLAN

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 24 May 2014
  • The following letter was submitted for inclusion in The Courier-Mail of Saturday 24 May 2014 but was not selected for publication.

Your story on cheating allegations related to NAPLAN reminds us that the program tests reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numeracy (“Testing times see cheat count at eight”, 23/5).

Spelling, grammar and punctuation are three of the criteria used to grade the writing component but are also tested separately in the “language conventions” paper. Given that the program probes only a narrow slice of the whole school curriculum, why is it necessary to measure these elements twice? Are they that important, or is it just that they are relatively easy to test with computer-marked, multiple choice items?

Posted in: Assessment   0 Comments

The cost of NAPLAN

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 13 May 2014

Today (Tuesday 13 May 2014) I had edited versions of letters about NAPLAN published in both The Courier-Mail and The Australian. In each case, underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones were added. Both letters were submitted in my capacity as a private citizen and did not cite any connection with ETAQ or AATE.

  • The heading for a group of three letters in The Courier-Mail was “Total recall passes test”.

Is NAPLAN worth the cost?

With this year’s nation-wide NAPLAN tests coinciding with what is anticipated to be a tough federal budget, it is reasonable to ask whether a proper cost-benefit analysis has ever been conducted on this government program.

Whether the program per se does more harm than good continues to be debated. But, even if there were universal agreement that it makes a useful contribution to teaching and learning in schools, it may still not be worth the chunk of a finite (the) education budget that it currently consumes.

I appreciate that the journalistic resources of newspapers are not what they once were, but I hope they can stretch to reporting and comment on this aspect of federal government expenditure.

 

  • The heading for a group of three letters in The Australian was “There’s no need to stress about NAPLAN – it’s just more class work”. The paper incorporated my proposed heading into the actual letter.

Is NAPLAN worth the money?

(Is NAPLAN worth the money?) One important aspect of NAPLAN that Justine Ferrari’s piece didn’t address was the cost (“Busting the NAPLAN myths”, 12/5). Perhaps the claim that it is worth the money is a myth.

With a tough federal budget anticipated, surely a hard headed cost-benefit analysis of this program is called for. I do understand that the journalistic resources of papers are not what they once were, but I hoped (hope) that reporting and commenting on the cost of a government program like (such as) NAPLAN was (is) still possible.

On a minor point, Ferrari refers to a piece by Christopher Bantick which, she says, appeared in the Fairfax media. I read it in a News Limited paper, Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail.

Posted in: Assessment   0 Comments

Who's heading the Australian Curriculum review?

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 6 May 2014

The following letter to the editor was submitted for the edition of The Australian of Tuesday 6 May 2014. It was, however, not selected for publication.

Has Professor Wiltshire been sacked?

The author information at the end of Kevin Donnelly’s most recent opinion piece on education unequivocally states that he “is heading the government’s review into the national curriculum” (“Better than Gonski, but wanting on funding model”, 5 May).

This will probably come as a surprise to Professor Kenneth Wiltshire who was also appointed by Minister Pyne to jointly conduct the review.

When I met with them in Adelaide recently to discuss my association’s submission to the review, it was  Professor Wiltshire who seemed to be taking the leading role.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)

Posted in: Curriculum matters   0 Comments

NAPLAN writing task

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 6 May 2014
  • An edited version of the letter below appeared in The Courier-Mail of Tuesday 6 May 2014 under the heading “NAPLAN change not a fix”. The underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted.

Practising for the NAPLAN writing test

The chief executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority is reported as saying that randomised writing tasks will be used in future to deter schools from excessive (NAPLAN) practice for the NAPLAN tests (“NAPLAN pain in the arts”, 5 May).

In the past, schools have known in advance what type of writing - narrative or persuasive - students will be required to produce in the 40 minute writing component. While no doubt well intentioned, keeping the text type a secret (the move) is quite likely to see schools devote even more time to practice so that all possibilities are covered.

The fundamental problem is that the NAPLAN tests have been made (are) high stakes for schools.

Until that changes, the program will continue to do more harm than (it will) good to the overall education of the country’s young people.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)

Posted in: Assessment   0 Comments

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.

Posted in: Assessment   0 Comments

Upcoming Events

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The Darling Downs Branch will present an Afternoon with Christine Hills and the Collins Writing Program on Wednesday, 26 February, 2020. Afternoon tea will be served from 3:15 to 3:45 pm. This workshop will allow teachers and school leaders an opportunity to: Explore elements of grammar that are central to good writing and align w...

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Tony will present a session entitled  "Getting students assessment ready for Essential English" at Pimlico State High School, Townsville on Saturday 2nd May, 2020. Teachers will explore teh possible options for assessment in Units 1 and 2. In particular how to develop an assessment program which best prepares students for the t...

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