Proof that online test affected NAPLAN results

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19 October 2018

A confidential NSW Education Department briefing paper about NAPLAN online has revealed the differences in results between the paper and online versions.

According to the briefing paper, NSW students who did the NAPLAN reading and spelling portions online were disadvantaged compared with those who sat the traditional pen-and-paper tests.

The document, obtained by the Australian Education Union under Freedom of Information, warned that NAPLAN results for this year and next year "may be less helpful as a measure of school improvement" than previously seen.

According to the briefing document, NSW students in years 3 and 5 who sat the NAPLAN reading tests online were disadvantaged. Their results dropped by four points compared with the previous year. This contrasted with the results of students who sat the pen-and-paper test, who saw their results rise.

NSW students in years 3 and 5 who completed NAPLAN spelling exercise online were also disadvantaged compared with those who sat the traditional version.

Year 9 students who sat the NAPLAN spelling test online were also disadvantaged.

However, in the numeracy, writing, and grammar and punctuation tests, online schools were advantaged compared with schools whose students did pen-and-paper tests.

The teaching profession's opinion that it was not possible to equate the results of a paper-and-pencil test with one completed online, has now been proven to be the case.

The AEU has called for the data from the 2018 NAPLAN to be set aside while the education community develops a new and student-centred approach to assessment.

New Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison must listen to the widespread concerns of the teaching profession and announce a comprehensive review of NAPLAN and My School.