Because of COVID-19, now more than ever, we need the NAPLAN test.
NAPLAN is the only national standardised test in Australia that gives parents, students and educators clear and independent information about the performance of our students and schools.
The Morrison Government believes parents and students deserve transparency and accountability.
We support efforts to provide parents with information on their children’s education, especially after the disruptions caused to schooling this year.
The evidence says that extended periods of non-school learning have the potential to result in poorer educational outcomes for our students.
Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, those with English as a second language, those with special learning needs and those in rural and remote areas are most at risk.
NAPLAN is the best tool we have to understand what impact COVID-19 has had on our children’s education and to inform what actions we need to take to fix it.
The test itself is improving. The move to online testing will mean results are returned faster and can be interrogated at a more granular level to further improve our understanding of student and system performance.
Getting all states and territories to transition to NAPLAN online remains our Government’s priority. Changing the name is not.
Because of NAPLAN data our Government is focussed on ensuring students develop strong literacy and numeracy skills.
We have rolled out a free nationwide phonics check for Year 1 students to ensure our youngest learners are on the right track when it comes to reading, writing and spelling.
We have instigated a review into the Australian Curriculum to look at how it can be decluttered to return its focus on the core pillars of literacy and numeracy.
NAPLAN data will also inform the research undertaken at the new $50 million national evidence institute to drive improvements in educational outcomes.
Since NAPLAN was introduced in 2008, results across the four domains tested – reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy – have largely been stagnate, with declines in Year 7 and 9 writing and improvements in Year 3 and 5 language conventions.
These results are against the backdrop of record Commonwealth funding flowing to states and territories for school education.
Since 2013, our Government has increased school funding by 68 per cent and we will provide record funding of $314.2 billion for schools to 2029.
Rather than focus our energies on destroying the only national test that provides evidence of how our students are progressing, we should be concentrating our energy on improving standards.
Former Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones understood the importance of NAPLAN, she said in 2017:
“Since 2008, NAPLAN has provided a valuable snapshot of our students’ progress in literacy and numeracy.
“The tests help schools to identify areas where students may need a little extra support, so I encourage all eligible students to give NAPLAN a go, because every student counts.
“Sitting the test should not be a cause for concern for students or their parents.”
Critics say NAPLAN has failed because results have not improved but that misrepresents the intent of NAPLAN. NAPLAN was not created to teach literacy and numeracy, it was created to measure what students have learned so parents, students and educators could track progress in education.
If NAPLAN results have not improved that’s a failure of our education system, not the NAPLAN test. You don’t blame the thermometer if you have a high temperature.
As former NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes argued in support of NAPLAN in 2017:
“NAPLAN is a useful diagnostic tool to track students’ progress in basic literacy and numeracy.
“Schools and teachers will use the results to provide additional support to those students who need it.”
Data and information has helped Australia fight the coronavirus, we should continue that approach when it comes to education.
Australia’s recovery from COVID-19 must focus on supporting our students and we should use all the tools at our disposal in these efforts, and that includes NAPLAN.