Students must be protected from NAPLAN data misuse

27 February 2019

A newspaper which inappropriately published simplistic league tables of NAPLAN performance between South Australia public schools has breached the Terms of Use of the website from which the data is located.

The Adelaide Advertiser has used NAPLAN data located on the ‘My School’ website in the article ‘Which South Australian public schools are NAPLAN high achievers?’ to create league tables.

Australian Education Union (AEU) South Australia Branch President Howard Spreadbury said that the misuse of the data in the Advertiser article could have profound and negative consequences for students, teachers and parents in those school communities.

“The publication of these league tables is damaging to school communities, and it represents a significant breach in trust of the principles upon which this data was established and a breach of trust between education department and school communities,” Mr Spreadbury said.

“NAPLAN was never intended to be used for the public comparison of results of individual schools.”

“It is not appropriate to compare school with school for the simple reason that issues like socio-economics and parent achievement are significant factors in determining student success,” Mr Spreadbury said.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe has written as a matter of urgency to Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan calling on him to stop newspapers from using the data for similar purposes in future articles.

“The Adelaide Advertiser has clearly breached the Terms of Use of the ‘My School’ website by misusing the NAPLAN data,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The ‘My School’ Terms of Use were specifically developed to prevent situations such as this - the misuse of student data, including creating simplistic league tables,” Ms Haythorpe said. “They cover, without exception all commercial organisations, including newspapers with both print and online digital media.”

“This is not the first time this publication has misused MySchool data. The league tables in today’s article must be removed immediately, and the publication must undertake not to use the data in a similar manner in future.”

“It is ironic that the Education Council is currently undertaking a review of NAPLAN data and how it is used, and yet we have publications creating inappropriate league tables.”

“Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan and South Australian Education Minister John Gardner must immediately outline what they are doing to protect students from this misuse of their data.”

The My School website Terms of Use[1] prevents users from reproducing or distributing:

  • the whole or part of the content from this site for any purpose;
  • use in any manner any content from this site or any derivative work for any commercial purpose(s), including but not limited to:
    • directly or indirectly sell or license any such content or any derivative work;
    • directly or indirectly sell access to any such content or derivative work including via a website;
    • generate advertising, subscription or other revenue from any such content or derivative work;
    • reproduce or distribute any such content or derivative work on, or in connection with, an external website, intranet site or equivalent media that has a commercial purpose; and
    • create lists of comparative school performance from such content, or anything derived from such content, for a commercial purpose.

Ms Haythorpe said this situation demonstrated the need for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN and the data that it produced.

“The AEU will be raising this issue as a matter of urgency with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan as well as all state and territory education ministers, especially South Australian Education Minister John Gardner,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“How will these Ministers ensure that students are protected from this misuse of data?”

“In the interests of our students and their school communities, we need all ministers to take immediate action on this issue.”