A national report has shown Tasmania does not lag as far behind other states for NAPLAN results, despite popular belief.
The Grattan Institute published its report Measuring Student Progress: a state by state report card on Tuesday, which ranked state’s progress against each other based on NAPLAN results for numeracy, reading and writing.
“Tasmania and the Northern Territory are often thought of as Australia’s education under-performers but when school advantage is taken into account this is not the case,” the report’s authors Peter Goss and Julie Sonnemann said in the report.
“This result suggests their schools are not, on average, doing a bad job. Rather, they are doing a tough job reasonably well.
“No one state or territory has significantly above-average progress in all three areas of numeracy, reading and writing at either primary or secondary level.”
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the report reinforced the government’s investment in the sector.
“It is important to consider socio-economic factors to make fair comparisons when considering state and national results,” he said.
“The Department of Education will continue to explore performance data in the way it is advocated in this report to ensure that appropriate support is given to disadvantaged schools.”
The state government has pledged $6.75 billion across the forward estimate for the education sector.
This includes the employment of an additional 250 teachers over the next six years and extending more high schools to years 11 and 12.
Mr Rockliff said the state government would consider the report further in detail but it affirms the commitment of the government to invest in education.
The report also took a look at the broader questions of the effectiveness of NAPLAN as a comparison tool for state student performance.
“NAPLAN does not capture everything that matters in school education, but it is the only test in Australia that enables us to compare student progress across every school,” the report read.
However, the report’s authors did note NAPLAN was a valuable research tool for policymakers to understand student learning, but it does have limitations.
“Student participation rates vary between states, which can make state comparisons difficult,” it said.
The effectiveness of the NAPLAN testing system has been questioned numerous times in the past, with Tasmanian education unions and lobby groups joining growing calls to drop the standardised testing.
However, the Grattan Institute report said while NAPLAN had limitations, dropping it altogether would be “a mistake” as it still has value as a research tool.