As recently reported in the Herald Sun article, ‘Victoria failing in NAPLAN test turnout’, there has been a dramatic drop in NAPLAN testing participation rates in the state over the past three years. Furthermore, the situation has prompted claims that absentees have been students with records of poor academic performance.
It seems, unfortunately, NAPLAN testing has been politicised to the point that schools are manipulating results to protect their own interests. While struggling students are tucked away at test time, their better performing peers are out achieving the results schools are proud to promote.
This practise flies in the face of everything NAPLAN testing originally set out to achieve. And, of course, it’s the children who suffer most.
While schools insist on presenting false facades, poorly performing pupils will continue to languish. Why? Because funding will not be granted to schools that, on the surface, don’t require it. The consequence – those kids who need additional resources are neglected.
It’s an alarming state of affairs, not only for students currently in the system, but for those entering it, too. Parents seeking out the best institutions available to their children rely on NAPLAN scores for guidance. How can judgements be made with confidence, knowing results are skewed?
My advice for parents here is simple: NAPLAN testing is a single measure of progress and should not be used in isolation. Consider it in conjunction with a range of formal and informal measures. (For further tips on such measures to consider, check out the Edworks article, ‘Choosing the right school for your child’.)
Undoubtedly, the current NAPLAN testing arrangement needs rethinking; the potential for manipulation compromises the whole system. While it’s certainly not all schools that are at fault, unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil the bunch.