Teachers say no to NAPLAN:
Sign on statement
As teachers currently working in Australian schools, we have grave concerns about the negative effects that NAPLAN has on our students, our schools, and the quality of our teaching. We call on the Federal Government to stop NAPLAN, shut down the MySchool website, and fully fund public education.
NAPLAN is a political tool, not an educational one
NAPLAN is designed by politicians, not teachers. It makes individual schools, teachers and students compete for education "outcomes" while shifting the focus away from government failure to fully and fairly fund education.
NAPLAN tests are defective
In his review of the NAPLAN writing test, leading education expert Dr Les Perelman called it “severely defective both in its design and its execution”. The writing test rewards overly complex sentences and vocabulary, and penalises those who plan, proof read, or write simply but clearly.
Similarly, the numeracy test penalises those who take their time thinking about a problem and engage in lateral thinking. And because of its large error margin, equivalent to more than one year’s average growth, a student’s results on two tests taken one year apart could show anywhere between no growth and three years of growth, and this would not reflect the student’s ability.
NAPLAN promotes poor teaching
Teachers cannot use NAPLAN results to effectively tailor our teaching. Even if the data were not flawed, the scores could not reveal why students were struggling or thriving. Teachers utilize a variety of interconnected strategies to gain detailed knowledge of each of our students – their strengths, their passions and their challenges.
A spreadsheet of NAPLAN results tells us nothing about our students’ learning compared to the far more authentic and reliable assessments we make in our classrooms. Yet many teachers are now being encouraged to use NAPLAN scores to create class profiles and modify our expectations of students based on their ranking.
In pursuit of higher NAPLAN scores, education bureaucrats and some principals pressure teachers to adopt dubious “data-driven” teaching methods that narrow our curriculum to what is most easily testable. Resources are diverted away from year levels, subjects and programs that are not considered to have a high impact on the data. The pressure to improve test scores also promotes a culture of teaching to the test and countless hours wasted on practice tests.
We are frustrated that our students are losing meaningful learning time. Their opportunities to develop creativity, social skills and critical thinking are diminishing, and they are under excessive and distorting performance pressure.
We object to the impossible position governments have put us in; the community expects us to use all the skill and care we have to educate children, and yet we must administer tests that we know will do educational damage. By definition 50% of students will receive a result saying they are “below average”. It is heart-breaking to see disappointed children and families, all the more so when we understand how crude a tool NAPLAN is at measuring students’ abilities.
NAPLAN cements inequality
The MySchool website puts terrible pressure on parents to “shop” for the school with the best NAPLAN scores and avoid “bad” schools, while federal and state governments evade their responsibility to fully resource every public school to teach their local students.
This market model of schooling means local diversity is no longer reflected in schools; instead students are increasingly segregated according to socio-economic status. This compounds the educational disadvantage of less privileged students.
In addition, formal school funding arrangements are now extremely unequal. Total government funding of private schools exceeds funding of government schools with similar types of enrolment. In this context, holding schools accountable for NAPLAN scores simply means punishing schools for systemic inequality.
Call on governments to scrap NAPLAN, not revise it
The federal government is under pressure from ACT, NSW, QLD, VIC and SA to “review” NAPLAN. ACARA is reviewing the writing test. But we don’t just need new versions of these standardised tests. Teachers are already highly committed to making sure every student has every opportunity to learn. We need trust and support, rather than test-based accountability measures to achieve this. We urgently need time to prepare lessons that challenge and inspire students. We need genuine professional development opportunities, rather than enforced PD time with “consultants” selling superficial strategies to lift school data. Moreover, governments must address the socio-economic inequality that is the primary impediment to lifting the overall academic achievement of our students.
The NAPLAN testing regime is untenable. We cannot continue teaching to this test, administering it, then using its flawed data to make decisions about our teaching. This process undermines our work and corrodes the community’s trust in us.
We encourage other teachers, educators, parents and students to oppose NAPLAN:
- Sign this statement below and share it with colleagues
- Withdraw your child from NAPLAN and let your school, friends, and politicians know why
- Support teachers to speak out against it - in some circumstances this can be a risk to our jobs!
- Say #No2NAPLAN and #Yes2PublicEdFunding
- Scroll to the bottom for resources supporting our critique of NAPLAN
For more information, please call 0404728104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Rutherford, secondary teacher, Victoria
Jonathan Sherlock, secondary teacher, Mount Alexander College, Flemington, Victoria, AEU
Lucy Honan, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Jacqui Scott, primary teacher, Victoria, IEU
George Lilley, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Chris Breen, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Fiona Taylor, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Miriam Pepper, alternative setting, Victoria
Kylee Townsend, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
David Linden, primary/secondary, Tarneit P-9 College, Victoria, AEU
Ella Ryan, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Brit Crellin, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Mark Goudkamp, secondary teacher, Beverly Hills Girls High School, NSW Teachers Federation
Reita Mason, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Blanche Verlie, education researcher, RMIT University/Monash University, NTEU
Lachlan Marshall, disability educator, AEU
Vladimir Dumovic, Dandenong High School, Victoria, AEU
Melanie Ralescu, early childhood, Victoria, AEU
Beth Muldoon, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Lucy Hamilton, secondary teacher, Victoria
Melannie Waldron, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Elise Young, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Alexandra Hoffman, Environmental Education (primary and secondary settings), CERES
Damion Hunter, secondary teacher, NSW
Vern Hardie, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Basil Byrne, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Joshua Wood, secondary teacher, Queensland, AEU
Annicka Cooper, primary teacher, NSW
Liam Brown, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Janice Hilda Catherall, retired primary teacher, Victoria
Steven Adams, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Mary-Anne Pontikas, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Wayne Johnston, secondary teacher, Phoenix p-12 Community College, AEU
Peter Walker, primary teacher, Roxburgh Homestead Primary School, AEU
Euan Morton, secondary teacher, Collingwood College, AEU
Justin Harris, secondary teacher, Geelong High School, AEU
Jan Maree Kelly, education support numeracy, W.P.S.C , AEU
Diana Beaumont, secondary teacher, AEU
Kim Frances O'Shea, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Danielle Harrison, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Andrea Halden, primary teacher, Orchard Grove Primary School, AEU
Graeme Wilkinson, secondary teacher, Horsham College, AEU
Sophie Rudolph, teacher educator, Victoria, AEU and NTEU
Brian Clarke, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Chris Guinane, primary teacher, Eastern Ranges School, AEU
Debra Fischer, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Cara Nightingale, early childhood educator, Victoria, AEU
Linda Churchyard, early childhood educator, Victoria, AEU
Sue Patrick, early childhood educator, Victoria, AEU
Dianne O'Dwyer, early childhood ecuator, Casual Relief Teacher, Victoria, AEU
Stephanie Keswick, primary teacher, Victoria
Grace Vining, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Amy Cox, pre-service teacher, teaching assistant, parent
Jonathan Anstock, principal, teacher educator, Queensland Teacher Professional Development
Feliana Mckenzie, primary teacher, NSW
Kellie Beat, secondary pre-service teacher, WA
Natalie Micevski, secondary teacher, Victoria
Amandah Taylor, early childhood educator, Victoria
Raelene Rodriguez, early childhood educator, NSW
Hamish McPherson, primary teacher, Benalla P-12 College, AEU
David Graham, secondary teacher, Victoria
Irene King, primary teacher, WA
Chris Ellis, early childhood special education, ACT, AEU
Randi Klassen, secondary teacher, Mount Alexander College, Victoria
Mary Merkenich, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Emma Marshall, teacher consultant-research, NSW
Bonnie Zuidland, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Christine Barallon, psychologist working with school aged children, QLD
Deb McPherson, AEU, QLD
Tracey Peebles, primary teacher, QTU, QLD
Elizabeth Popovic, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Rebecca Welsford, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Tatijana Lam, primary teacher, QLD
Simon Marrow, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Simon Lynch, secondary teacher, St Albans Secondary College, Victoria, AEU
Nermina Fetahovic, school administration, Victoria, AEU
Carolyn Rose Jackson, integration aide, secondary school, Victoria, AEU
Fatima Azmitia, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Sarah Stewart, primary teacher, Victoria, AEU
John Clive Junor, secondary teacher, Altona P-9, Victoria
Kathleen Pryor, secondary teacher, Victoria, AEU
Ernest Price, secondary teacher, Mount Alexander College, Victoria, AEU
In the media:
Award-winning author sits NAPLAN writing test. How did she go?, Education HQ, April 16th 2018.
‘Detrimental’: Victoria Joins the Push for a Review of NAPLAN, by Henrietta Cook, The Age, April 11th 2018.
'Severely defective': Rob Stokes backs highly critical report on NAPLAN testing, by Pallavi Singhal, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 9th2018.
NAPLAN's writing test is 'bizarre' but here's how kids can get top marks, by Natasha Robinson, ABC Online, 9th April 2018.
Time to drop NAPLAN? We shouldn't treat school like a competition, by Yvette Berry, The Canberra Times, March 21st 2018.
AGPPA calls for a full and independent review of NAPLAN, by the Australian Government Primary Principals Association, 9th March 2018.
Stokes scraps controversial year 9 NAPLAN policy, by Alexandra Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22nd February 2018.
NAPLAN testing faces scrutiny as education ministers push for changes, by Natasha Robinson, ABC Online, 15th February 2018.
Experts slam NAPLAN, call for federal review, by Sarah Duggan, Education HQ, 6th February 2018.
Literacy Educators’ Coalition – 'Say NO to NAPLAN' papers:
1. Inappropriate Uses of NAPLAN results (Margaret Wu & David Hornsby)
2. Misleading everyone with statistics (David Hornsby & Margaret Wu)
3. Teaching to the test (Lorraine Wilson & David Hornsby)
4. The NAPLAN view of reading, teachers and learner-readers (Lorraine Wilson)
5. Exploring NAPLAN spelling data (Jane Buchanan & Brendan Bartlett)
6. Your children and NAPLAN (Meryl Hyde & Jacinta Cashen)
7. The risks of NAPLAN for the Arts in education (Robyn Ewing)
8. Wake Up Australia (Richard Gill)
9. The age of contempt and absurdity (Phil Cullen AM)
10. Making learning visible (Gloria Latham, Di Nevile & Cheryl Semple)
The wisdom of teachers to make assessment and reporting explicit
11. NAPLAN: A school council’s perspective (Spensley St PS)
12. The teacher, the student and NAPLAN (Barry Carozzi)
The flawed nature of the NAPLAN test questions in specific domains
13. Misleading information provided about NAPLAN spelling items (Diane Snowball)
14. NAPLAN tests of language conventions are problematic (Fiona Mueller)
The inadequacy of the NAPLAN tests for particular demographics
15. NAPLAN language assessments for Indigenous children in remote communities: issues and problems (Gillian Wigglesworth, Jane Simpson & Debbie Loakes)
16. NAPLAN: A principal’s perspective (Kevin Pope)
17. NAPLAN results linked to parents’ incomes (Jude Ocean)
18. Who are the stakeholders in NAPLAN? (Barry Carozzi & Meryl Hyde)