NAPLAN online debacle casts doubt about the future of NAPLAN

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8 August 2018

Calls by the teaching profession for a full review of NAPLAN have strengthened, following reports today that results from sitting the NAPLAN online test cannot be matched with results achieved by students sitting the equivalent paper-based test.

Parents and teachers have been left in the dark about the status of NAPLAN online trial results, despite the report being scheduled to be released today.

Around one million students sat NAPLAN tests in May, with almost 200,000 students doing the test online for the first time. However, the issue with NAPLAN online result compatibility means that while individual student results may be available, crucial ‘system-wide’ data comparisons reportedly cannot be performed.

Despite the trial previously being described as a ‘roaring success’ by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, NAPLAN online results have not been made public,with no date yet set for their release.

State and territory education department leaders attended a meeting in Canberra today which had NAPLAN online on the agenda. The uncertainty over the validity of NAPLAN online results has thrown the future of NAPLAN itself into doubt.

ACARA CEO Robert Randall assured parents, schools and teachers that the 2018 NAPLAN results are on track to be released soon.

However Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino said he was “extremely concerned” about reports that the results from the pen-and-paper version of the test and NAPLAN online version may be “not comparable”. NSW Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott said that while parents would be able to see how their own children scored, ACARA might not be able to compare system-wide student performance from this year to last year or previous years.

The AEU has led the call for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN. This has been joined by parent and principal associations around the country. The AEU has also called on Min. Birmingham to immediately give a full explanation of what went wrong with the NAPLAN online trial, and whether the data comparison issue can be rectified.