New CIS research: Why We Need NAPLAN

Blaise Joseph

13 May 2018 | MEDIA RELEASE

NAPLAN (commencing this year on May 15) is an essential part of Australia’s school system, and common criticisms of the national assessment tool are not supported by reliable evidence, according to new research from The Centre for Independent Studies.

In Why We Need NAPLAN, education policy analyst Blaise Joseph examines the main criticisms of NAPLAN, presents the case for retaining the tests, and discusses the future of NAPLAN.

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Mr Joseph says the criticisms are not underpinned by rigorous evidence.

“There have only been a small number of studies examining whether NAPLAN has a negative impact on schools and on student stress, but these are inconclusive.

“The research to date is mostly self-reported surveys and doesn’t allow a strong conclusion to be drawn.”

Mr Joseph also defended the often-criticised publication of school NAPLAN results on the MySchool website.

“The MySchool website is important for parents and ensures school results are transparent. Parents choose schools based on many different factors, including academic achievement.

“Having access to NAPLAN results allows parents a more informed choice for their children’s education success.”

“Recent attacks on NAPLAN and the MySchool website by some politicians might be favoured by education unions, but they aren’t borne out by evidence — and are at odds with the views of parent organisations and many teachers and principals.”

Mr Joseph said there are three main benefits of NAPLAN.

“Firstly, it is a tool to improve schools and teaching. Secondly, it provides transparency for literacy and numeracy results in schools and states. And thirdly, it holds governments and schools accountable for the more than $50 billion of taxpayer money invested in the school system each year.”

But NAPLAN could still be improved in future, Mr Joseph said.

“A possible review of NAPLAN could add value if it addressed questions like how the results can be better used to improve schools and teaching, and how to better communicate the purpose and benefits of the tests to stakeholders.”

The 2018 NAPLAN tests commence on Tuesday 15 May.

Blaise Joseph is an education policy analyst at The Centre for Independent Studies and a former teacher.

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