Minister Birmingham hiding from NAPLAN online crisis

10 August 2018

Reports of a second planned meeting by senior state and territory education officials about the NAPLAN online crisis have exposed a lack of leadership by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

The Australian Education Senior Officials Committee (AESOC) is reportedly meeting again today by teleconference to deal with concerns that the results from the trial of online NAPLAN may not be comparable to those from traditional paper NAPLAN tests.

Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe called on Min. Birmingham to take ownership of the situation. She said that the parents and teachers of the one million children who had sat NAPLAN were waiting for answers.

“The concerns raised over the misguided trial of NAPLAN online have shaken whatever confidence was left in NAPLAN,” Ms Haythorpe said. “Where is Education Minister Simon Birmingham? We need leadership on this issue and he is in hiding.”

“We understand the state and territory education Directors-General are holding a teleconference for another NAPLAN online crisis meeting. Clearly there is a problem with the NAPLAN online results. However the solution shouldn’t be up to AESOC.”

“It is the responsibility of Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham to show some leadership, and be completely transparent about finding the solutions to the issues being experienced with NAPLAN online,” Ms Haythorpe said.

According to reports, the main point of concern about NAPLAN online is the diverging performances in grammar and punctuation between students who sat the online test and those who sat the written version.

Ms Haythorpe said Min Birmingham was more interested in attacking his critics than in finding a solution to the NAPLAN online crisis.

“The status of NAPLAN online is a legitimate issue of public interest, especially to the parents of the one million students who sat the NAPLAN test this year. However Min. Birmingham has been able to provide no answers,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“His only public response yesterday was to attack the AEU, saying that our position has been to restrict the flow of information to parents. This is categorically untrue.”

“The AEU has always been in favour of parents being given quality information relating to student assessment. We work closely with parents’ committees and understand the importance of information related to teaching and learning,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This is why we have called for the release of the NAPLAN online report, so that parents have the information they were previously promised by ACARA. All we want is the truth about NAPLAN online, but that has been in short supply.”

“Clearly it is time for Min. Birmingham to announce a comprehensive review of NAPLAN. It was the AEU which first called for a NAPLAN review, and this call has been taken up by principal associations, state-based parent groups and some education ministers”, Ms Haythorpe said.

“NAPLAN online is fundamentally flawed and must not be implemented. We call on every state and territory education minister to put the needs of students first by scrapping the move to computer-based testing,” said Ms Haythorpe.