Time to close the book on NAPLAN


29 April 2019

The AEU has called for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN, with the view of replacing it with a more appropriate and less strenuous approach to student assessment.

In a submission to the Education Council of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Review of NAPLAN Data Presentation, the AEU questioned whether the current NAPLAN method of standardised testing was fit for purpose. It called for NAPLAN to be replaced with a form of sample testing similar to that carried out by PISA.

The submission outlined a number of issues with NAPLAN, including that:

  • The original stated purposes of NAPLAN and My School had been terminally corrupted.
  • The My School website caused great social harm, especially to the most vulnerable students and schools
  • The My School website was incompatible with contemporary policy approaches to privacy rights.

High stakes standardised assessment regimes such as NAPLAN can have a number of negative impacts on schools, teaching staff and students. It can lead to the narrowing of teaching strategies and of the curriculum. It can also have negative impacts on student health and wellbeing, school staff morale, and on a school’s capacity to attract and retain students and staff.

The AEU’s submission called for the use of NAPLAN data as a scorecard for individual schools or groups of students in those schools, to immediately come to an end.

It also called on ACARA to inform parents of the very wide error margins used to calculate student and individual school scores, and the misleading manner in which they are presented to parents on the My School site. My School is not an accurate way to determine a school’s character, and is not how NAPLAN results were originally intended to be used.

For years the AEU has led the call for a review into the NAPLAN-driven approach to curriculum and assessment, which has demoralised teachers, stifled workforce morale and degraded the status of the profession.

The best method for improving student learning is targeted and immediate feedback in the classroom. By contrast, My School presents a delayed snapshot of NAPLAN results, entirely without context.

The solution to improving educational outcomes is to invest additional resources into schools and into classrooms, so every student is supported to reach their full potential.