Changes to NAPLAN tests recommended

Substantial changes to the NAPLAN tests have been recommended by a Senate committee report.

Substantial changes to the NAPLAN tests have been recommended by a Senate committee report.

A Senate inquiry into the NAPLAN tests has recommended substantial changes to the tests and the MySchool website.

“The committee heard a huge amount of evidence that the MySchool site has introduced a competitive element which is damaging student and teacher wellbeing and resulting in a whole lot of ‘teaching to the test’,” Greens Senator Penny Wright said.

“As a committee we came to the view it’s time the ranking and comparative functions for individual schools on the MySchool site were removed.

“The committee also thinks that NAPLAN needs some improvement as a diagnostic test – it’s just not as helping teachers and parents support students as well as it should.”

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said last year the Coalition would consider banning the publication of NAPLAN results because they were ''skewing the way people teach''.

But Mr Pyne has since dramatically softened his rhetoric.

''The government committed to review NAPLAN and the My School website to ensure it is meeting the needs of our students," he said, on Thursday. 

Labor's education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said NAPLAN should be continually improved.

"It's a really important tool for picking up where schools and students are falling behind - and for working out where extra investment in needed,'' she said. 

''NAPLAN results are just one factor that should be taken into account in assessing a school's performance.''

The Australian Literacy Educators' Association told the committee it takes five months for NAPLAN results to arrive at schools - too long for them to be used as a tool to identify problems in the classroom and devise solutions.

According to a survey by the Australian Education Union, 58 per cent of teachers don't believe NAPLAN is an effective diagnostic tool.

''The school year moves at a rapid pace and the turnaround of many months [for NAPLAN results to become available] does not allow for meaningful intervention to ensure students across the spectrum of development are given the appropriate support they require,'' the committee found.

The recommendations include: 

·         The Government take a more active role to ensure NAPLAN results are used to help students and schools, not create league tables.

·         Getting test results back to teachers and parents much faster (currently a 3-month turnaround);

·         Improving the design of the tests to better accommodate students with a disability and students from non-English speaking backgrounds.