Ipswich Grammar School students Byron Reynolds and Madyson Rapmund.
Ipswich Grammar School students Byron Reynolds and Madyson Rapmund. Rob Williams

Calls for NAPLAN rethink after 'catastrophe'

CALLS for a review into NAPLAN have ramped up once again with this year's national standardised test being labelled as a "catastrophe".

Dr Stewart Riddle, a senior lecturer in the University of Southern Queensland's School of Education, said huge issues with students accessing the test online was just another reason to instigate change.

Thousands of kids across Australia will resit the test after technical problems.

NAPLAN Online is expected to be fully rolled-out by 2020.

Even though 500 Queensland schools used the digital form this year, the results will still be released at the same time as the pen and paper tests.

NAPLAN results are reported nationally through summary results released in August and a full national report is released in December.

Dr Riddle said the desire to overhaul the test over its 11 year history is nothing new but the number of opposing voices were starting to pile up.

"The big takeaway from this year's NAPLAN has been what an absolute catastrophe going online has been," he said.

"There was such a huge number of schools who had access issues, log on issues... or they couldn't get it to work.

"They now all have to do the test again... that raises some interesting questions about the validity of the results given that they've already attempted to do the test and now they have to do it again.

"Pretty much every state and territory has now come back with some kind of report into NAPLAN saying it either doesn't really deliver anything particularly useful or it needs to be revised."

Education Minister Grace Grace has called on the Federal Government to commit to a comprehensive national review following the release of a state-wide evaluation.

"It's an expensive test... in the order of between $30-40 million," Dr Riddle said.

"It has produced relatively no gains in terms of students' reading, writing and numeracy.

"They've spent the better part of half a billion dollars testing every kid in our schools for the last ten years to do what exactly? To be basically in the same place we were (when it started).

"Most of the other states and territories are saying very similar things. Expect if not this year, definitely next year I would expect there to be a major review."

Dr Riddle said there are other options available that are more cost and time efficient.

"I could talk for hours on different ways for teachers to do diagnostic testing in the classroom," he said.

"There are many different ways you can test kids knowledge and understanding without having to do an expensive nationalised test."

He believed something akin to the PISA test would satisfy schools the information they gain from NAPLAN on how they are performing at a system or state level.

Every three years, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development test about 1000 15-year-old students from each participating country in literacy and numeracy.

"From that they can make statistically meaningful comparisons between different systems and countries," he said.

"We could do the same thing, you'd only need to take a sample of all the students in Queensland and test them and you'd get the same validity as what you'd get if you tested every single kid.

"(It would be) cheaper and more efficient. If you want that information, there are better ways of getting it (than NAPLAN)."



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