Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The positive side of NAPLAN testing

This article appeared recently in the Australian Newspaper showing the positive side of NAPLAN testing. Read full article here.

SINCE the introduction of the national numeracy and literacy tests three years ago, Michael Phillips has used their results time and again to identify students who need additional help, as well as those those who are excelling and could be placed in advanced classes.

The principal of Ringwood Secondary College, in Melbourne's outer eastern suburbs, says the tests, in conjunction with teacher judgment and other internal assessment, have become invaluable in the way the school structures student learning.

"Together they provide a fairly rich picture of where the student is at," Mr Phillips said yesterday. "It certainly, in many instances, has helped raise levels of achievement of students at a greater rate."

The principal of 15 years opposes the planned ban by the Australian Education Union of the next round of the tests -- known as NAPLAN -- which are scheduled for May. The union's 180,000 public school teachers are refusing to administer the tests unless the federal government prevents the results from being compiled into league tables.

"I am really a bit unsure about the boycott of testing as a solution to the issue," Mr Phillips said. "I would hope that common sense would enable the tests to occur."

He says that stopping the testing will be disruptive for schools that rely on the results to structure programs and student learning.

"From my point of view, we use the NAPLAN data to look at individual student performance and it allows us to plan curriculum for particular groups of kids," he said. "We now have a whole lot of strategies that are informed by NAPLAN . . . and to have that information withdrawn would make it difficult to move forward with the whole student learning agenda."