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The cost-benefit of NAPLAN

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 11 March 2015

The following letter was submitted to The Australian for possible inclusion in the edition of Monday 9 March 2015 but, alas, it was not selected for publication.

NAPLAN may be useful but is it worth the cost?

Your national education correspondent provides an account of some NAPLAN success stories from schools around the country ("With educators held to account, national learning improvement project is going to NAPLAN", 7-8/3). With continued effort, perhaps the country can become like Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon. There, all the children are above average.

However, given that balancing the budget is a major problem confronting the nation, it is disappointing that readers were not told what the NAPLAN tests cost each year.

We are often assured that the average citizen is sufficiently well informed to sensibly interpret data derived from a single point-in-time test of performance in a narrow slice of the whole school curriculum. If this is so, then surely they are also capable of deciding whether it is the best way to spend a proportion of the finite funds available for education. As far as I am aware, no proper cost-benefit analysis of the program has ever been done.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Garry Collins, AATE PresidentAuthor: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.
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