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NAPLAN data misuse must be looked at

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The Adelaide Advertiser newspaper recently received a slap for putting together league tables of school performance based on NAPLAN scores, raising the issue of misuse of the data on MySchool.

The league tables of NAPLAN performance between South Australia public schools published in the article ‘Which South Australian public schools are NAPLAN high achievers' were simplistic and also breached the Terms of Use of the website.

Australian Education Union (AEU) South Australia Branch President Howard Spreadbury said that the misuse of the data in the Advertiser article could have negative consequences for students, teachers and parents in those school communities.

“The publication of these league tables is damaging to school communities, and it represents a significant breach in trust of the principles upon which this data was established and a breach of trust between education department and school communities,” Spreadbury said.

“NAPLAN was never intended to be used for the public comparison of results of individual schools.

“It is not appropriate to compare school with school for the simple reason that issues like socio-economics and parent achievement are significant factors in determining student success.”

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe has written as a matter of urgency to Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan calling on him to stop newspapers from using the data for similar purposes in future articles.

“The Adelaide Advertiser has clearly breached the Terms of Use of the ‘My School’ website by misusing the NAPLAN data,” Haythorpe said.

“The ‘My School’ Terms of Use were specifically developed to prevent situations such as this - the misuse of student data, including creating simplistic league tables. They cover, without exception all commercial organisations, including newspapers with both print and online digital media.” 

“It is ironic that the Education Council is currently undertaking a review of NAPLAN data and how it is used, and yet we have publications creating inappropriate league tables.”

Ms Haythorpe said this situation demonstrated the need for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN and the data that it produced.

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