Teachers face testing times

DOZENS of Bundaberg teachers are facing action from the federal government if they refuse to hand out national literacy and numeracy tests in May.

Delegates at the Australian Education Union (AEU) national conference in Melbourne on Tuesday voted to refuse to hand out the tests unless safeguards were put in place.

Bundaberg teacher Allan Cook, an executive member of the AEU, said the concern was results of the tests would be posted on the government’s My School website, which would allow the media to build a league table of schools.

“We have no fear of transparency,” Mr Cook said.

“We are against the misuse of data to build league tables, because certain schools will end up on the bottom.”

Mr Cook said the problem with league tables was that there were winners and losers, and when it came to schools the AEU did not want to have anyone labelled a loser.

The tests are given to Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students and form a major part of the My School website, which aims to provide parents with a look at how schools are performing.

But Mr Cook said the AEU’s opposition to the tests was not set in stone.

“There is room for movement,” he said.

“Education Minister Julia Gillard has to implement some way to prevent media outlets from forming league tables.

“If she implements that mechanism, the tests can go ahead.”

Ms Gillard this week also warned of repercussions for teachers who refused to administer the controversial tests.

She said she was “not going to rule anything in or anything out at this stage” in terms of the government’s reaction to the teachers’ move.

Mr Cook said punishing the teachers would not be a helpful move.

“The reality is, I believe, none of the actions she can take would be successful or helpful in this situation,” he said.

Queensland Teachers’ Union vice-president Julie Brown said the boycott would go to the union’s state council meeting in March.

“Before that we will probably do a ballot of our members so they will be included,” she said.

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