The Australian Education Union (AEU) has slammed this year’s NAPLAN online trial, labelling the data collected as worthless, as it calls for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN and My School.
This comes following concerns on how well the data collected online can be compared with that derived from pen and paper tests.
All Australian education systems will move to NAPLAN online by 2020. According to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), “Online testing will provide more accurate and precise information about what students know and can do.”
This year marked the first year of the transition to online testing, with around 20 per cent of students who took the NAPLAN test, doing so online. In 2019, a larger percentage of students will undertake the test online.
The NAPLAN summary results released on 28 August 2018 include combined data for online and paper student assessments.
Prior to release, NAPLAN results are reviewed and endorsed by independent measurement advisory experts. Compared with 2017, ACARA revealed that the results were stable, with no statistically significant changes.
ACARA also stated that the measurement experts confirmed the results for online and paper NAPLAN results could be compared between assessment modes and years.
“This was the first year in which students undertook NAPLAN online and the transition was smooth, with feedback from schools at the time of testing stating that students found the online assessment engaging,” said ACARA CEO, Robert Randall.
“The NAPLAN online platform performed well and 99.8% of students were able to complete the assessment online.”
Despite ACARA stating it was pleased with how NAPLAN online had performed in its first year, AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe, has called on newly appointed Minister for Education and Training, Dan Tehan, to heed calls for a comprehensive review of NAPLAN and My School.
The AEU points to the recent report, Problems in the Design and Administration of the 2018 NAPLAN, by academic Les Perelman PhD, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor Walt Haney from Boston College.
According to the report, data from this year’s NAPLAN online trial is incomparable to paper testing and “2018 NAPLAN results should be discarded”.
“The AEU has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to show leadership and take responsibility for the NAPLAN online fiasco,” Ms Haythorpe added.
“This report, by independent world-leading experts in online assessment, said that the ‘comparison of 2018 results with those of prior years is, for the most part, a futile exercise’. This unequivocal condemnation of NAPLAN by respected academics highlights the urgent need for a full independent inquiry into all aspects of NAPLAN and My School,” she said, adding that AEU members had previously raised concerns about NAPLAN online.
“A child’s education cannot simply be encapsulated as a number in a spreadsheet – we need a much more holistic assessment process which is connected to the daily learning that occurs in our schools.”