You may be aware that the AEU Victorian Branch and the federal AEU have been campaigning for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN that includes the views of the profession. Pleasingly, Minister Merlino and federal Labor have heeded this call and have now made public statements calling for a review. The new federal minister for education, Dan Tehan, has yet to commit to undertaking such a review.
In addition, we have seen schools across the nation participate in online NAPLAN trials which have led to serious questions about the validity of the subsequent results. There are significant concerns about comparability of online and pen and paper tests, impact of technology on the work that students are able to produce, and how issues around equity are suitably addressed.
The AEU Victorian Branch does not support NAPLAN online occurring in 2019.
In Victoria, we have schools who have either participated in NAPLAN online this year, or who are being required to undertake ‘readiness’ tests to be in a position to undertake NAPLAN online in 2019. This is premature, given the clear need to have a comprehensive review of NAPLAN. It is also happening without a clear understanding of the impacts of moving to online NAPLAN testing. In addition, there has been insufficient consultation with the profession.
The AEU Joint Primary and Secondary Council met on Friday 7 September and passed a resolution (see below) which calls upon sub-branches to pass a resolution that expresses their strong view that schools should not be undertaking the preparation work and delivering the next stage of the NAPLAN online rollout as it is not in the interests of students, parents, school staff or public education.
What we need you to do:
- Immediately call a sub-branch meeting and pass the resolution below so that the minister, VCAA and DET are aware that AEU members across the state do not support NAPLAN online preparation occurring during this school year or NAPLAN online testing occurring in 2019.
- Email the AEU a copy of the sub-branch resolution, indicating when the resolution was passed, with the names of the mover and seconder, which we will convey collectively to the government. present to the minister as part of the next stage of the campaign.
The [insert school name] AEU sub-branch call upon Victorian Education Minister Merlino to immediately withdraw Victorian public schools from implementing the NAPLAN online trial, including the required planning and preparation tasks, as it is not in the interests of students, parents, AEU members, and public education.
The AEU position
The AEU Joint Primary and Secondary Council strongly endorse the decision of the AEU Federal Executive to withdraw the AEU’s support for the introduction of NAPLAN online and to lobby federal, state and territory ministers to abandon its development and implementation.
The Joint Primary and Secondary Council calls on the state government to put the needs of every student first and not engage any further in the rollout of NAPLAN online because it is educationally unsound and will significantly disadvantage students and schools across Victoria by:
- reinforcing existing inequity because of unequal access to computer technology (including insufficient ICT hardware and inadequate bandwidth) for students from lower socio-economic, rural, and regional communities
- inappropriately requiring children in the early years of schooling to complete online NAPLAN testing
- further adding pressure on teachers to teach to the test, including developing and implementing NAPLAN online preparation programs addressing student ICT skills for the specific purpose of undertaking online testing
- seeking to introduce computer based marking of students’ written prose responses, an
- disrupting the educational program of schools for the duration of the two week testing period.
The Joint Primary and Secondary Council notes that the decision to withdraw support for NAPLAN online is one element of a broader concern about the negative impacts on public education of NAPLAN. Consistent with longstanding AEU policy on the use of standardised testing in our schools the Joint Council again highlights the unacceptable impacts of NAPLAN, including:
- the narrowing of the curriculum and the loss of quality teaching time to focus on test preparation and delivery
- the illegitimate judgement about student achievement and school performance, including league tables, based on a point in time test with unacceptably large margins of error which does not genuinely capture student learning progress
- the stress and anxiety experienced by students and school staff because of the high stakes nature of the test
- the undermining of the professional knowledge, practice, and judgement of teachers in terms of assessing student learning and implementing teaching and learning programs that effectively support student achievement
- the linking of NAPLAN results with the achievement of any other certification, and
- the increasing use of NAPLAN results to inform the funding of our schools.
The AEU also recognises the increasing involvement of commercial interests and so-called edu-business in the development and delivery of NAPLAN, NAPLAN online, and associated products. This involvement does not serve the interests of our students and school’s but instead the profit driven motives of those companies and their shareholders.
The AEU Victorian Branch will continue to work with other AEU Branches and associated bodies through the AEU Federal Executive to develop and implement a range of strategies to ensure that NAPLAN online does not proceed in the context of continuing to identify the broader problems of whole of cohort standardised testing.