NAPLAN certificates will undermine Year 9 student achievements

The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian Branch has condemned the Victorian government’s plans to grant certificates based on Year 9 NAPLAN results saying the announcement sidelines the real needs of Year 9 students and their teachers.

The new certificates will raise the stakes around NAPLAN performance to an extreme level and will seriously compromise student learning across the curriculum. Student wellbeing will also suffer with NAPLAN known to cause students significant anxiety for little gain.

AEU Victorian Branch Deputy President Justin Mullaly said that the government is misusing NAPLAN by making it the only measure of learning growth and achievement that is valued.

“Over many years, politicians and education authorities have said that NAPLAN was a test of a student’s performance at a point in time, not their overall ability,” said Mr Mullaly.

“The government should be recognising the broad ability of students across all subject areas based on their teacher’s assessment. Instead the government is imposing a regime of certificates which serve their political interests, with the interests of students a very distant second.

“NAPLAN has been plagued with a litany of problems over many years including last year’s online debacle. Teachers, principals, parents and students cannot trust NAPLAN or its results; just this week the NAPLAN 2019 National Report highlighted the fact that testing data is fatally compromised. 

“This announcement flies in the face of James Merlino’s support for the comprehensive review of NAPLAN currently underway and his public recognition that teachers and principals do not trust NAPLAN or the data which comes from the test. 

“We should be scrapping the NAPLAN test in its current form, but instead Victoria is putting teenagers in a situation where a test that doesn’t work becomes the focus of measuring their achievement.

“When standardised tests like NAPLAN become the focus of how student achievement is measured it can lead to ‘teaching to the test’ rather than teachers developing an engaging learning program for their students. 

“It will mean students are worried about preparing for the standardised test instead of focussing on developing the broad skills and knowledge they need for their future.

“On top of that, this plan will mean Year 9 students who already face educational disadvantages because of family or community backgrounds will be further marginalised.

“Teachers and principals have told us loudly and clearly that NAPLAN is not the way forward. The government must act to get rid of NAPLAN and implement assessment arrangements that have students and teachers at its core.”