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NAPLAN online debacle needs explaining says AEU

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NAPLAN’s migration to the web has hit a snag with summary results for this year’s being delayed as there are concerns the online test results cannot be compared to the results from the paper tests. Around one million students sat NAPLAN tests in May with almost 200,000 doing the test online for the first time.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said Education Minister Simon Birmingham had been repeatedly warned that the online and paper test results could not be compared.

“Minister Simon Birmingham has said numerous times that the rollout of NAPLAN online has been a ‘roaring success’. If this is his idea of success I’d hate to see failure,” Haythorpe said.

“According to reports, the NAPLAN online report is being held back due to concerns over the reputational risk to ACARA. What about the minister’s concerns about the 200,000 students who are victims of this fiasco? This is a disaster.”

She said the AEU had warned the federal government last year that the NAPLAN online concept was flawed and that it must be scrapped.

“Many schools in regional and rural areas do not have reliable internet connections, and students from low socio-economic areas often don’t have the same level of access to technology as others. Putting these students in a situation where they must sit the test online is unfair and will simply serve to measure the different levels of technology-proficiency,” Haythorpe said.

“If states go ahead with the implementation of NAPLAN online thousands of students in our schools will be put at a severe disadvantage. Every state and territory education minister must act to protect students by stopping the implementation of the online test and engage in consultation with the profession about the issues.

“This is just not good enough. Minister Birmingham needs to explain what has gone wrong with the NAPLAN online trial, whether the data collected is invalid, why this has happened, exactly how many students are affected and what he plans to do to salvage this debacle.

“This outcome is incredibly embarrassing for Minister Birmingham and for the Turnbull government. They went against the advice of the teaching profession in going down the NAPLAN online path and now we have reports of a million online assessments being ‘invalid’.

“Parents and teachers deserve an explanation as to what has happened. The NAPLAN test is a stressful experience for both students and teachers and the last thing they want to hear is that the results have somehow been corrupted.”

“If media reports today are incorrect and nothing is wrong with the NAPLAN online data, then Minister Birmingham should release the NAPLAN report immediately.”

Haythorpe added that a teacher’s assessment of their students was preferable to any standardised NAPLAN assessment.

“The best form of assessment is the informed judgment of a teacher. Teachers make sure the full range of factors influencing a child’s learning are considered, and conduct a variety of learning assessments.

“A child’s education can simply not be encapsulated as a number in a spreadsheet – we need a much more holistic assessment process which is connected to the daily learning that occurs in our schools.”

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