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NAPLAN another year, not much change

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The release of NAPLAN results this year occurred with little fanfare and that has much to do with the very modest results achieved, the only group that seems to be making progress are the Year 3s and 5s and that too is modest.

Year 3s' and Year 5s' progress across the now nine years of testing has been most noticeable but not very spectacular, we’re talking an improvement of around 2%: in 2008 92.1% of Year 3s scored at or above the National Median Standard, in 2018 94.9% scored above the median.

Similarly, 91% of the Year 5s in 2008 scored above the median while in 2018, 93.9% ranked above the national median, which isn’t amazing.

Strangely the peak for both groups was 2013 where 95.3% Year 3s achieved a score above the median and 96.1% of Year 5s scored better than the national median. If we’re to take 2013 as a starting point that indicates a downward trajectory but a modest one.

For the older students in Year 7 and 9 the NAPLAN scores have been stubbornly around 94% and 92%  above the median respectively and arguably these students are the ones whose results have the most bearing on their futures and their performance in leaving exams.

The national profile is also stuck in one place with the prosperous and populous eastern seaboard states achieving the best results and those in the NT still achieving the lowest, although there is some progress there, but again nothing to write home about.

The criticism of NAPLAN is as old as the standardised test itself and that seems to be mounting as most elements of the test are questionable according to many experts in the area.

If you take into account the amount of resources, time and disruption to study that the tests represent it seems that there is very little bang being achieved for the buck.

The AEU has been very vocal about advocating that teachers drive student assessments at a school level and look for that vocality to be more pronounced as the 365 pages of the report are dissected in the coming days.


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