NSW teacher slams NAPLAN as Education Minister calls for tests to be scrapped
While one cannot overlook the fact that after a decade’s time a testing system, no matter how effective, has to undergo changes to suit the varied learning styles and different needs of students, the propaganda that NAPLAN causes a lot of stress and pressure on students and hence needs to scrapped off is a little far-fetched. If one were to use that as a parameter to end a testing system that is in place then I think HSC examinations, that are crucial for year 12 students, need to be put an end to. One cannot deny the stress Year 12 students experience as they are constantly pushing themselves to better their scores in order to gain a Band 5/Band 6. The results obtained in the HSC examination could be life changing for most whether they score high or do not score the required marks to get into their preferred courses at the university of their choice.
Do I foresee a shift in the emphasis from NAPLAN to newly designed literacy tests, which is used as a ruse by NAPLAN haters to wipe out a reliable collection of data on student achievement and performance as far as literacy and numeracy skills are concerned in Australia? Are we educating the students to embrace change or are we encouraging them to be escapists with the propagandized idea being anything stressful or challenging or pressurizing needs to be dissolved or cancelled? Did we just wake up to the fact that NAPLAN testing has flaws in the tenth year of implementation? What prevented us from perfecting the system in the initial years of it being brought into effect? Food for thought.
The testing system is not responsible for the commercialization of NAPLAN. Private schools, in comparision with public or state schools, use the idea or concept of NAPLAN more to sell their schools as being the best in the education industry and the same is being done by coaching or tutoring centers to promote their business. The introduction of minimum HSC standards has intensified the hatred towards NAPLAN as the pressure falls on the shoulders of teachers to prepare the students to the extent of scoring Band 8 in the reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy tests. Let me remind you that in the beginning the idea was that students should have age appropriate skills to perform well in the tests and that there was no need for any prior preparation. However, competition and the transparency of My schools website, resulted in some unpredictable developments.
It is time for change. Change in the way assessment is done. Not to produce skill-less students. Not to eradicate collective data. According to Australian Professional Teaching Standards, modified instruction is a must to cater to the learning needs of all students and modified assessment tasks, which needs to be different from the class assessment, should be implemented to support EAL/D students, refugees, international students from non-English speaking countries, students with disabilities and other learning needs. With the introduction of online NAPLAN testing, provisions have been incorporated to address the needs of students with disability to a certain extent. However, the lexically dense nature of the texts used in NAPLAN prevents students from achieving their true potential or results that reflect their true abilities. This needs to change and a modified NAPLAN testing should be in place to include these students with low literacy skills or reading and writing proficiency. The current emphasis on minimum HSC standards should change as it is in direct contradiction to the ‘no preparation required’ unsaid law. By insisting that students score Band 8, preparation for tests become mandatory.
Can the politicians and the education system designing future literacy tests guarantee that the tests would be flawless? Should we regard the protests as a genuine call for change or cunning manipulations?