NAPLAN Held at the Wrong Time

Rescheduling could provide better data.
Mar 12, 2024
Is digital NAPLAN underlining the gaps in access to technology?

If NAPLAN data are to inform teaching, moving the testing to the end of the year could be an improvement.

Rescheduling it would provide an insight into what children achieved in that school year, teachers would then be able to address children’s learning needs and knowledge gaps when planning at the start of the following school year.

Professor Karen Murcia at Curtin University says, "Many voices are emphasising the inefficacy of preparing students for the test, the time and resource allocation involved in schools, and the lack of meaningful outcomes it provides to children. Testing in March and going digital, may not be the promised panacea.

"It became apparent last year that testing in March and using digital marking still didn’t get the results into schools and with teachers in a timely manner, with some as late as October. School leaders and teachers questioned what the test results showed that they didn’t already know about their classrooms and children’s learning needs.”

Going digital, while an efficiency improvement at first glance, could well present its own set of problems.

"There are many challenges faced by schools in planning and conducting digital NAPLAN testing, especially those with limited resources and children with low digital capabilities. Issues such as access to technology, digital literacy skills, and the time-consuming nature of online testing are challenging schools and taking time away from quality learning for the children who need it most.”

There are still schools that are not adequately equipped with suitable computers, related hardware, and reliable access to the internet. With an insufficient number of devices, it is difficult for schools to ensure children have access to the digital NAPLAN tests.

"To further exasperate the inequality, children have not necessarily progressed sufficiently on the continuum of ICT capabilities to manage and operate test question functions."

The numeracy testing requires fluency with a range of mouse and keyboard functions and literacy testing requires adequate typing skills for success. It might be that NAPLAN now indirectly tests children’s digital capabilities and this could cloud test results.

"Arguably, the ability to show working-outs and mathematical reasoning has also been lost through the efficiency of the digital click, drag and drop and selecting from a dropdown option box," Prof Murcia says.