Education ministers are meeting in Adelaide to discuss a schools report by David Gonski.NAPLAN testing shouldn’t be junked but the controversial testing scheme does need work, the federal opposition says.
The federal government is staring down demands to scrap the standardised tests across primary and secondary schools, as state ministers pore over the details of businessman David Gonski’s calls for a curriculum overhaul.
There’s suggestions teachers are focusing too much on preparing students for the tests in years three, five, seven and nine and not enough on overall learning.
Labor leader Bill Shorten says there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but as a parent he can see negatives to be addressed.
“I’d like to see on a bipartisan basis people work toward seeing how we can improve it, deal with the concerns expressed by frontline teachers and parents but not automatically junk the whole policy overnight,” he said.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes is using Friday’s Education Council meeting in Adelaide to ask that NAPLAN be urgently scrapped, arguing the national scheme is being used dishonestly.
Backed by teachers and the state’s Labor opposition, Mr Stokes will urge the federal government to replace NAPLAN with a less “high stakes” test that assessed each student’s progress, as recommended by Mr Gonski.
“I am all for transparency, but this is not transparency, this is actually dishonesty,” he told Fairfax Media.
“You now have an industry that’s grown up alongside it, where teachers are being encouraged to teach the test rather than curriculum.”
Mr Stokes said NAPLAN had become a vehicle for “edu-businesses” to extort money from desperate students and their families.
“When you now have private schools marketing their NAPLAN success, that points to the failure of NAPLAN, and it’s time we had discussions about replacing it,” he said.
Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has also suggested that more comprehensive tests were needed.
“An over-reliance on these measures alone risks students not being equipped with the full set of skills required to succeed in the workplace and broader economy,” he said in a report last week.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said NAPLAN served an important purpose for many Australian parents.
“Parents make clear they want to see how their children are progressing, they want to know whether their children are learning very clearly the basics of literacy and numeracy that NAPLAN sets,” he told ABC radio.
“NAPLAN has been important not just in giving that information, but also in ensuring that we are able to undertake the types of assessments that have informed this recent Gonski report.”
Senator Birmingham wants the states and territories to focus on the main game.
“What we need to do today though is get on with agreeing to work out the implementation stages around this Gonski report,” he said.
Mr Gonski’s second report into Australian schools highlighted a decade of declining education outcomes to argue the nation’s aspiration for excellence was in jeopardy.
Australian Associated Press