With the end of first term fast approaching in many states teachers, their thoughts begin to turn to the “highlight” of 2nd term, the NAPLAN tests. Now that the results derived from these tests are being made public via the MySchool website, the relative importance of these tests has been ramped up.
It was interesting then to take this link contained in a tweet from @Darcy1968 to find reference to a paper from Margaret Wu at Melbourne University. The report titled NAPLAN for the Lay Person seeks to highlight some of the problems in extrapolating the NAPLAN results beyond their limitations.
The Australian federal government’s education transparency agenda should begin with providing the layperson with clear guidelines for interpreting the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results. In particular, the accuracies and limitations of NAPLAN results should be made clear in plain language, so that all stakeholders can make use of NAPLAN results in an informative way.
The examples given in the paper resonated with my own personal experience where in every year out of a class of 25-30 there was always at least one students whose NAPLAN results were totally aberrant in comparison to what they exhibited in class. This often required tactful discussion and interpretation with the parents concerned. Margaret’s paper would have made an excellent reference, though even here the argument would probably need interpretation for many parents.
Despite the misgivings expressed in the report, the NAPLAN is going to be with us for some time so it’s also interesting to check in with how the Twitterverse is reporting and reacting to the tests. Doing a Twitter Search in my Tweetdeck reveals that it is not only teachers that are reacting to the whole NAPLAN process. as shown in the the stream captured from my Tweetdeck NAPLAN search panel below.