National teacher survey gives thumbs down to NAPLAN

Nearly nine out of 10 public school teachers say that NAPLAN is ineffective as a method of assessing students, according to the latest State of our Schools online survey.

Amongst other results, nearly seven out of 10 public school principals said NAPLAN is not effective as a measure of school performance, while nearly eight out of 10 public school principals say NAPLAN is not effective for comparing school performance with other schools.

According to the survey, nearly six out of 10 public school teachers say they are spending too much time preparing for, and administering, standardised tests, leading to a reduced focus on other areas of the curriculum.

The State of our Schools online survey was conducted by Insync Research survey on behalf of the Australian Education Union (AEU) between 20-31 August 2018. 7,804 AEU members responded to the survey, including 697 public school principals, 6120 public school teachers and 987 public school support staff.

AEU Acting Federal President Maurie Mulheron said that the survey results showed just how little faith the teaching profession had in NAPLAN.

“These survey results demonstrate the strength of feeling in the teaching profession against NAPLAN, with nearly nine in 10 public school teachers saying it isn’t fit for purpose,” Mr Mulheron said.

“A child’s education cannot simply be encapsulated as a number in a spreadsheet. We need a much more holistic assessment process which is connected to the daily learning that occurs in our schools.”

“NAPLAN places unnecessary pressure on our children, their families and teachers and does not take into account the high quality, broad curriculum and learning experience that our schools provide,” Mr Mulheron said.

“The best form of assessment is the informed judgment of a teacher,” Mr Mulheron said. “Teachers make sure the full range of factors influencing a child’s learning are considered, and conduct a variety of learning assessments.

According to the 2018 State of our School Survey:

  • 85% of teachers feel that NAPLAN is ineffective as a method for teachers to use as a way of assessing students
  • 76% of teachers say publication of NAPLAN data has led to an increase in the pressure on teachers to improve NAPLAN results
  • 75% of teachers say publication of NAPLAN data has led to an increase in the use of NAPLAN data to measure school performance
  • 65% of teachers say publication of NAPLAN data has led to a noticeable increase in the stress levels of students in the lead up to the test
  • 61% of teachers say publication of NAPLAN data has led to a greater focus on preparing for the test, including pre-testing
  • 54% of teachers say publication of NAPLAN data has led to a reduced focus on other areas of the curriculum
  • 58% of teachers feel they spend too much time preparing for standardised tests
  • 57% of teachers feel they spend too much time administering standardised tests​

In addition:

  • 74% say NAPLAN is not effective for comparing the performance of your school with other schools
  • 67% of principals say NAPLAN is not effective for measuring school performance

Mr Mulheron said that a full comprehensive review of NAPLAN was required. He said priority should be placed on ensuring that all schools receive the funding and resources needed to deliver for students and raise student outcomes.

“The AEU has always been in favour of parents being given quality information relating to student assessment. We work closely with local parents’ groups and understand the importance of information related to teaching and learning,” Mr Mulheron said.

“It was the AEU, in collaboration with principal associations and state-based parent groups which first called for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN, and this call has been taken up by some education ministers.

“After a decade of this failed testing regime, we need to critically analyse the impact of standardised testing and we need to implement assessment processes which are intricately linked with teaching and learning in our schools, not just used for system data collection purposes,” Mr Mulheron said.

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