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Last 10 Posts [ In reverse order ]
Alicia Posted on May 2 2018, 12:30 PM
Too much interference by “academic theorists” and researchers looking to get ahead.
scepo Posted on May 2 2018, 11:04 AM
So true Charles.
Charles Posted on May 2 2018, 10:40 AM
NAPLAN tests go online as teachers' union warns of internet bans amid systems failure fears

By Rebecca Carmody

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Photo: More than 250 WA schools will conduct NAPLAN testing online this year for the first time. (ABC News: Natasha Robinson)

Year 11 and 12 students at some West Australian schools have been banned from using the internet during online NAPLAN testing due to fears of a systems failure, the teachers' union says.

The State School Teachers' Union WA said concerns about insufficient bandwidth had forced a number of high schools to limit internet access during the testing period from May 15 to 25.

Union vice-president Samantha Schofield said it was a concern that normal lessons were facing disruption due to the introduction of online NAPLAN for the first time this year.

"Some Year 11 and Year 12 students have been told they're not actually allowed to use the internet to download, or be in the computer labs, while these children are undertaking NAPLAN online," Ms Schofield said.

She said after years of budget cuts, many schools were feeling the strain of having to meet the technological requirements of online testing without any additional support.

"There's something fundamentally wrong with the system that requires a school in WA to set aside funds for a one-off test when we are so under-resourced," Ms Schofield said.

A total of 273 WA schools will make the move from paper-based tests to computer-based assessments this year, ahead of the 2020 deadline for all Australian schools to move to online testing.

Students will use PCs, laptops or iPads to do the tests.

NAPLAN is the annual literacy and numeracy assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

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Photo: Samantha Schofield says NAPLAN can no longer be considered a standardised test. (ABC News: Rebecca Carmody)

But education department strategic director Peter Titmanis said there was no evidence suggesting students would be significantly disrupted.

"Schools have chosen to do NAPLAN online this year, and they have put in a lot of effort to prepare teachers and students and check their technology," Mr Titmanis said.

"Every public school involved has done practice testing successfully with the peak number of students doing the online test at once."

Mr Titmanis said the department had invested $7.5 million to provide infrastructure upgrades and additional devices to help public schools get ready for NAPLAN online, rising to around $10 million by 2020.

The phasing in of NAPLAN online this year heralds another significant change — the introduction of "tailored testing" for those completing the test online.

Students will be presented with different questions based on the answers they provide.

Struggling students will be directed to less complex questions, while students performing at higher levels will get more complex questions.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) which administers NAPLAN, said tailored testing had been successfully trialled in 250 Australian schools and would provide a more precise assessment.

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Photo: Students will use laptops, iPads or desktop PCs to undertake the online NAPLAN tests. (7.30)

It would also be more engaging for students who were more "positive" about the test.

But Ms Schofield said the introduction of tailored testing meant NAPLAN could no longer be described as a 'standardised' test.

She questioned how ACARA could accurately compare results when students would be answering different questions.

"It is no longer a standardised test. It is becoming a measure for data ... at the expense of children's education," she said.

However, ACARA said all questions were placed on a NAPLAN scale, ensuring results were comparable for all tests regardless of the format.

"Both test formats assess students on the same curriculum content and all results are placed on the same NAPLAN assessment scale," an ACARA spokesperson said.

"The tests have been developed to ensure there is no disadvantage and to ensure comparability of results both across the mode — paper or online — and across years.

"ACARA has carried out studies between paper-based and online tests to ensure both modes of testing measure the same literacy and numeracy skills and offer comparable test results."

The purpose of testing needs closer scrutiny. When teaching, I firmly believed that testing was about analysing the effectiveness of my teaching and establishing the basis for future lessons.

Too much emphasis is now being placed on testing rather than teaching. The danger is that teaching is focused on the actual tests rather than the needs of the child. Granted, testing can identify those needs but too much empohasis on testing can be detrimental to a rounded education.

"Weighing the pig doesn't make it any fatter," is a saying I have used in the past. Measurement has its place as long as the measures are meaningful, timely and can be acted upon. Too much measurement and inappropriate measurement may not get you to where you want to be and could even be harmful.