Testing distracts from funding cuts

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21 September 2017

Year one literacy and numeracy testing announced by Simon Birmingham on Monday is an unnecessary distraction from the funding cuts public schools are facing under the Turnbull Government’s schools funding plan.

‘Schools already undertake a range of assessments of year one students to identify those students who need help – the missing link is having adequate resources to put programs in place to help those students,’ said Australian Education Union Federal President, Correna Haythorpe, in response to the announcement.

‘Instead of imposing more standardised testing using an approach borrowed from the UK with little evidence to show its effectiveness, Simon Birmingham should explain why he has put the brakes on school funding and why he is choosing to put the brakes on children’s achievement – especially in our public school system, which will lose around $3 billion in the next two years alone under the Turnbull Government’s funding plan,’ Haythorpe said.

A recent OECD report found Australia’s commitment to education spending is declining as a share of GDP, lending additional evidence to calls to increase investment instead of imposing more standardised tests.

The new testing regime was unanimously rejected by state and territory education ministers when the Education Council met in Adelaide last Friday. Following the meeting, Simon Birmingham failed to rule out tying schools funding to the adoption of testing. The proposal has also been broadly challenged by teachers and unions.

‘The government is trying to sell its low-trajectory funding growth for schools as enough funding, when it plainly isn’t. High achieving systems invest in their schools – they don’t just impose more standardised testing,’ Haythorpe said.

Even after ten years of Turnbull’s new schools funding plan, a majority of public schools will remain below the bare minimum school resourcing standard, while many schools in the well-resourced private system will remain well above it.

‘We’ve done the funding test on this government, and it has failed our schools,’ Haythorpe concluded.