Australia: Why is the New South Wales Teachers Federation promoting a new NAPLAN?


Australia: Why is the New South Wales Teachers Federation promoting a new NAPLAN?

Erika Zimmer

18 May 2018

Earlier this month, the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF) hosted a public lecture entitled “Towards a New NAPLAN: Testing to the Teaching.” It was delivered by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) director of Writing Across the Curriculum, Dr Les Perelman, reportedly one of the world’s leading experts in school education and assessment. The NSWTF commissioned Perelman to develop the academic paper “to contribute to the debate about dismantling the existing NAPLAN assessment regime.”

NAPLAN, the National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy, currently assesses Australian students annually in years three, five, seven and nine. It was introduced by the Rudd Labor government a decade ago, part of a conscious agenda aimed at restructuring public education to lower costs, narrow the curriculum, fill the coffers of edu-businesses, such as Pearson and McGraw Hill, and produce “work-ready” youth.

A decade later the test has come under fire. Claims by then Labor federal education minister, Julia Gillard, that NAPLAN would boost achievement have been widely discredited. Test results across the board have failed to improve while the performance of the most disadvantaged students is in free-fall.

Perelman is best known for his criticisms of a new addition—an essay—to the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), a standardised test widely used by college administrators for college admissions in the United States. He was not opposed to an essay portion of the test per se; he considered it a good idea if done well. His chief criticism was that length, more than any other factor, correlated with a high score in the marking of the SAT….

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