60 minutes Story on NAPLAN testing in Australia
Tonight on 60 minutes was a story on the NAPLAN testing that is conducted across Australia each year (http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8726596).
Approximately 1 million students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 complete the standardised tests that are designed to generate data regarding student performance in Maths and English. The data is used to show a students’ performance as they progress through school, however, there are other uses for the data that create controversy.
Specifically, the data is used to rank schools based on their NAPLAN results, which is then posted on the myschool website (http://www.myschool.edu.au/). This site gives people the opportunity to compare the performance of their school with every other school in the country.
A further controversial use of the NAPLAN results is as a surrogate measure of teacher performance. Whilst this method of measurement may not be an accurate reflection of teacher performance, it raises the question ‘how are we to measure teacher performance?’
Advocates for the NAPLAN testing point out that the testing is designed to ensure that numeracy and literacy levels are maintained and possibly even increased across the country, as well as the point that the test helps identify students who need extra work in these areas. Advocates of NAPLAN ask ‘what happens to students who leave school without the appropriate literacy and numeracy skills?’
Critics of the NAPLAN testing believe it narrows the curriculum and skews lessons towards passing a test rather than developing a more holistic educational experience. At the extreme, some have even gone as far as calling NAPLAN testing a form of child abuse.
Whether you are for or against the NAPLAN testing, one thing remains constant; students will always be competing against themselves and their peers for places at university, for jobs, promotions and so on long after they leave school. Rather than remove the NAPLAN testing, or any other form of testing, we need to equip our students with the skills they need to rise to the challenge of performing as well as they can under exam conditions.
The skills to perform your best are priceless and they will last them a lifetime. That is why Slam the Exam exists.