NAPLAN testing is “just a snapshot” of performance and may not have a place in the future of education in Northern Tasmania.
That is the view of Tasmanian Education Union president Helen Richardson, who spoke ahead of a tertiary education forum in Launceston on Monday.
One of the forum’s panellists, Adam Mostogl, said there was a disconnect between the rigid structures of education and the skills needed in the present and future labour markets.
Mr Mostogl said standardised testing like NAPLAN was a vestige of that system.
Ms Richardson agreed with Mr Mostogl’s comments.
“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 results are not being used in the way they were first intended...the solution to improving education outcomes in Tasmania is to engage students in life-long learning, not by encouraging competition between schools.”
Ms Richardson said educators had expressed concern about the misuse of NAPLAN data and the length of time it takes to receive results.
“It can take up to four months before teachers receive a student’s NAPLAN results,” Ms Richardson said.
“A school’s story can’t be told through just data and graphs, and simplistic ranking of skills is unfair.”
Tasmanian economist Saul Eslake said NAPLAN should not be used as an indicator of an individual child’s performance.
“It should be a measure of the school’s performance, but never a student’s individual one,” he said.
Mr Eslake said there was a place for standardised testing and assessment in Tasmania’s education system but he didn’t have enough information to know if NAPLAN was the best way forward.
“Standardised testing, like NAPLAN, should exist to ensure the public at large that what is being taught is appropriate and that students are achieving what they need to achieve,” he said.
Anecdotal evidence has shown teachers who were “teaching to the test”, Mr Eslake said, which was not an effective way to use the testing method.
He said it should “absolutely not” be used to measure student performance.
The Launceston education forum will be held at the UTAS Newnham campus on Monday and will investigate how tertiary education can feed back to other levels through innovation in the sector.
Adam Mostogl will be joined by University of Tasmania Provost Jane Long and NTEU national president Jeannie Rea as panellists for the event.
- The Future of the Sector education forum will be held on August 20 at the University of Tasmania Newnham campus from 5-7pm. The forum will be held in the computing room on campus (NH. V137) with drinks and nibbles from 5pm. The cost is free.