Tasmanian Education Union joins national push for review of NAPLAN test

Tasmanian education lobby groups have joined the push for a review of NAPLAN ahead of a national Education Council meeting on Friday. 

The Education Union’s Tasmanian branch and the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations have added their voices to the push for an independent review of the NAPLAN testing process.

“It is time for a wholesale review of NAPLAN and we urge all ministers to commit to supporting a full and independent review of NAPLAN at the Education Council meeting,” AEU Tasmania president Helen Richardson said.

The news comes after a US expert weighed in on the writing component of the test, who said it was “absurd and strange”.

Les Perelman has previously written critically about plans to introduce automated marking for the NAPLAN writing tests, a plan that has since been scrapped.

"Teaching to this test will make students poor writers by having them focus on non-essential tasks such as memorising spelling lists. NAPLAN's influence in the classroom could even negatively affect Australia's standing in international test scores,” Mr Perelman said.

Acting Education Minister Elise Archer said she would be open to an evaluation of NAPLAN.

“Assessments like NAPLAN are important because we need some form of benchmarking, to drive improvement and accountability in education,” she said.

“I do acknowledge though, that evaluation is important and we should be aiming to continuously improve. On this basis, I’m open to an evaluation of NAPLAN.”

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A meeting of the Education Council will be held in Adelaide on Friday.

TASSO president Lisa Gillard said the organisation supported the need for a review.

“NAPLAN has become something more than its original purpose and often uses time and resources which could be better utilized in teaching and learning,” she said.

Now in its 10th year, NAPLAN is under scrutiny over its role in education testing, with more questions over whether the program is being used as intended by parents, teachers and experts in assessing performance.

“NAPLAN is just one test, a snapshot, and on its own provides a narrow and incomplete picture of a student’s education. It can’t measure creativity, critical thinking, engagement or the culture and community of a school,” Ms Richardson said.

NAPLAN has been criticised in the past because of the stressful experience it creates for students and its inability to accurately test a student’s learning ability.

 “Lifting student outcomes does not mean simply lifting NAPLAN results. If we want to see improved student outcomes, we need to invest additional resources in our schools, so every student is supported to reach their full potential,” Ms Richardson said.