Friday, June 1, 2012

ACARA sets the record straight on NAPLAN

ACARA has today given a concise description of the value of the NAPLAN Tests. Critics of NAPLAN and those opposing participation in the May NAPLAN tests should read this carefully and reconsider their position.

"Pencils Down: NAPLAN 2012 Concludes

ACARA is pleased to acknowledge the successful conclusion of this year’s NAPLAN tests and would like to thank the thousands of principals and teachers who helped to administer tests at nearly 10,000 schools to over one million students right across Australia.
The results of these tests provide policy makers, schools, teachers and parents with important information to help them understand and improve student performance.
While we await the availability of individual student reports later this year, ACARA would like to set the record straight about NAPLAN and especially some misconceptions about the testing program.
NAPLAN involves just a few hours over a few days at four points across a child’s schooling. It is designed to give a snapshot of student performance in key areas of literacy and numeracy – the sort of skills that are necessary not just for school but for life. When taken in aggregate, the results do provide a good picture of how students across the nation, as a whole, are performing. We also know that the individual student reports, set in the context of the local school and the nation, are valued by parents. The NAPLAN results are just one of a number of sources of information used by teachers to measure student progress but they help to place school reports and assessments in a broader context.
ACARA expects all students, with certain clearly spelled-out exceptions, to sit the NAPLAN tests. Not doing the tests denies students, parents and schools information from which they might usefully learn. ACARA continues to make the point that research shows that the best way for students to develop their literacy and numeracy skills is through a rich curriculum, not through any narrow “teaching to the test”.
ACARA agrees that some organisations use NAPLAN in ways that are meaningless or even harmful. Those who use NAPLAN results to publish simplistic league tables do themselves and the community a disservice. Such tables offer nothing worthwhile because the user cannot tell whether differences between schools are due to what the schools do or whom the schools enrol, nor do they include crucial statistical information such as confidence intervals."