This page features statements by educators, parents, the media and the wider community, affirming and supporting ACARA’s work.

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School perspectives: Principals of schools achieving substantially above average gain in NAPLAN

In March 2018, we asked a number of principals of schools that demonstrated substantially above average gain in NAPLAN 2017, to tell us about the initiatives, methods, resources and programs they have implemented within their schools to make a difference to their students’ literacy and numeracy outcomes. Here are their stories.

27 August 2018:

Don't 'ditch' NAPLAN: Researchers urge school testing data be kept public

A pair of Australian National University researchers have urged governments not to give up on NAPLAN data, as the nationwide literacy and numeracy test is reviewed.

Jake Evans,
ABC news

February 2018:

The NAPLAN information does shine a bright light on those students, schools and communities with the most to gain from additional support and resources; it also gives parents an objective basis by which to engage in collaborative partnerships with our schools and departments to improve student learning for all.

... NAPLAN has long been part of my family’s school experience – and one that gives a snapshot of a moment in time against a standardised worksheet that crosses the nation. For most school age students NAPLAN is a normal part of the variety in their classroom experience as they are taught by fabulous teachers according to the Australian Curriculum...

See the full document (PDF 247 kb)

Phillip Spratt
Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO)



13 November 2017:

Parents choosing their children's school can take months or even years. Private, public, and independent schools have their own pros and cons. The yearly fee for Australian elite private schools is now close to the minimum wage. Elisa and Wil are studying at Brisbane Grammar Girls and Boys schools. For Kim Douglas, mother, and Andrew Douglas, father, sending the kids private was not all about an academic result. Mrs Douglas says the Pastoral Care Program in these schools is excellent. However, it comes at a price. But Mr Douglas, father, says this is a commitment worth making. In Mansfield High School, a student says no money can buy the community spirit that they have. Karen Tanks, Principal, Mansfield High School, is proud that the academic mark of the school is in the top 10 of the state. David Gillespie, father, says there is no strong correlation between money and good academic results. He backs his research with a tool, My School website, available to all parents. The website shows the NAPLAN results. Sefton High School is outperforming surrounding private schools. In Northern Beaches Christian School, the thinking is outside the standards public school parameters. Stephen Harris, Principal, Northern Beaches Christian School, says a more relaxed learning environment is keeping phase with he modern workplace. He says they have to keep changing as the world is changing. The school is structured with lounges, breakout areas, and individual learning spaces. Back in the Douglas family, Mrs Douglas says there is no state high school in Brisbane that has single sex education. In terms of the pros and cons of private and education, in public schools parents feel they get connections to the local community, but they have larger class sizes and outdated learning materials. On the other hand, private schools tend to have smaller class sizes and have better materials and equipment. But some parents believe private has a more competitive environment which could stress some students. 
Channel 9, Melbourne, hosted by Tracy Grimshaw 

Immanuel Lutheran College principal, Colin Minke, says the value of NAPLAN testing is the benchmark it provides upon which to improve. Students in his school achieved consistently strong results in this year's tests across all parameters in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. "The trick is to blend the sorts of problems they are going to get... into the general curriculum,” Mr Minke said. 

Caboolture News, "Schools' NAPLAN trick is to blend test into curriculum"

NAPLAN is an essential tool that we at Trinity Grammar School use to identify areas where our programmes could be reviewed and improved, and it also helps us to identify whether changes in our approach are having the desired impact on learning outcomes. We are also mindful not to allow NAPLAN testing to have a negative influence on learning opportunities, curriculum choice and student wellbeing.

"The relevance of NAPLAN in your son's education"  

As a parent, I find it very useful to have the NAPLAN data on the My School website for comparative purposes and would like to commend everyone at ACARA for the hard work in making the data so readily available and easily accessible to everyone, particularly lay people like myself.

Our family certainly appreciate the data made available for a more informed decision-making.
Juliana Tang, WA

Over the seven years since NAPLAN was introduced, Queensland and WA schools have also raised the proportion of students who meet national minimum standards in reading and numeracy. In 2008 they were behind most other states but are now comparable.

Principal of Mount Gravatt State High School in Brisbane, Richard Usher, said his school has achieved improved outcomes by tailoring support to each student "clearly explaining the goals of each lesson to students, checking understanding and providing effective feedback in a consistent way across the school". 
Australian Financial Review 

Wantirna South Primary School, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, was on the high gain list for improvements in numeracy in years 3 and 5.

Principal Wayne McDonald said the school was "due recognition for the hard work put in by staff".
"We're always striving to get better and by getting better the children get better," he said.
"Not every child's an academic, but if we get their literacy and numeracy right, then everything else will fall into place.
"If the children are happy to come to school then learning will take place." 

St Mary’s Principal David Harris said the Woree high school strived for student improvement over time, with the Year 9 cohort achieving great results last year.

“NAPLAN as a standardised test provides the college with valuable base data for Year 7 and Year 9 students,” he said.
“The results can be compared to the ongoing classroom teaching and learning to assist the College in identifying some of its curriculum priorities.
“The format of the test also assists in preparing students for exam settings in later years.”
Cairns Post

"The My School website presents a wealth of data about schools and how their students perform in NAPLAN tests," said Ms Spiller, the principal of St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School in Brisbane. 


Coniston Public, which had an enrolment of just 208 students last year, made the ACARA’s high-gain schools list after lifting its 2016 NAPLAN scores in reading.

“We’re extremely pleased with the result,” Principal Karen Brown said.
Ms Brown said NAPLAN was a “useful snapshot” to see how the school and its students were progressing.
Illawarra Mercury

Tanunda Primary School Principal Michelle Barnes was complimentary of the test [NAPLAN], and said it gave a good measure of where her school and others were at.

“We look for similar patterns, maybe that we noticed that lots of kids are struggling with something like sentence structure or solving tasks,” she said.
Ms Barnes said that the results can assist the school in planning for the future.
“We would use that to make decisions about our focus for the remainder of the year or next year; we look for patterns to help us, and to see what measures of our teaching are really effective,” she said.
“It gives us a snapshot of where our kids sit in relation to other schools around the state and country.”
Ms Barnes said NAPLAN assisted parents and teachers to help students outside of the classroom, and where they could improve as well as to strive towards a higher potential.
“With parents we can look at the information provided and help give them information about what they could do at home, to help their kids in areas where they’re struggling, or extend them in areas they are showing potential in,” she said.
Ms Barnes uses the data to further help her teachers as well as students, with NAPLAN assisting areas to further improve teachers and where they were excelling.
“We use a range of different tests; with something like literacy, we have spelling tests and a reading comprehension test,” she said.
“It can give you specific teaching points. 
“It may be the child is having problems inferring information when they read which isn’t directly stated, so the teachers will then look and think ‘okay, perhaps we need a particular program which helps pull out information that’s not directly stated within the test’.
“You can use it to pull out particular teaching points, and focus on that to give students who are requiring some additional help some extra support.” 
Barossa Herald

Renmark West Principal Judy Cottam said the strongest improvements were made by Year 7 students.

"It was significant that over three years our year sevens had managed to improve and show really good gains," Ms Cottam said.
"It indicated that something was happening in the other year levels that was gradually strengthening their literacy skills.
"It showed that some of the initiatives we put into place are actually paying off and we are seeing some positive results."

"We looked really closely at the NAPLAN tests and how to best support students to understand the questions being asked and to break the questions down because many questions involve multiple sets of skills which students have to master."

Wodonga West Primary School Principal Jocelyn Owen feels it has merit and is valued by parents.
"I think it's a really valid tool which we use with our other assessment tasks," she said.
"It helps us to validate where the children sit and I would believe it's quite accurate.
"It can inform us of where gaps are in our curriculum.
"If we have students that don't perform well on a particular question we can look at closing the gap.
"We can look at boys versus girls and the relative gain which shows how our students have grown from year 3 to year 5."
Border Mail

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Congratulations and thank you for your work. We find the My School data and the analyses it enables (e.g.  between similar schools) immensely useful. 
Professor Eleanor Ramsay, University of Tasmania



The national curriculum, with greater emphasis on phonics-based instruction in the early years, has lifted literacy results in Queensland and Western Australia.
Read more in Education, The Australian (subscription required) 

Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson attributed the state’s results to the introduction of the Prep Year, as well as the introduction of the Australian Curriculum, universal access to kindergarten and a focus on literacy and numeracy.
The Courier Mail, 5 August 

To Daily Telegraph, 20 August

The two articles by Bruce McDougall "Nap-Panned" (page 9) and by Kevin Donnelly "The man with the plan for NAPLAN" (page 27) of the Daily Telegraph (August 6) are contrasting in nature, with one panning it and the other providing a plan for a National Assessment Program. This sort of national assessment is not bad, but the whole problem with this assessment is that it is not seriously taken by the schools and students alike. Government is investing a considerable sum in obtaining a nation-wide assessment in literacy and numeracy, yet the government is unaware of the fact that they are getting only a partial assessment.We do not have the assessments of considerable number of individuals who do not take the test,as it is optional. It does not necessarily mean these kids are lagging behind in literacy and numeracy, but their parents have made the choice of not exposing their child to such an assessment. The flaw also lies at the level of schools because despite excellent teaching methods and programs in literacy and numeracy, they show their best students for such an assessment, thereby giving a false indication of their true ability in these two areas of assessment. Government has waited too long and has watched this loophole being exploited year after year. Now is not the time to pan, but to find a new plan for NAPLAN. Panning will cause more damage, as this is the only national test on which we rely for critical assessment of our kids in literacy and numeracy.

Since NAPLAN is not a compulsory test and not counted towards student's report, it encourages schools and students not to take such assessments seriously. Sadly, none of us talk about "International Competitions and Assessments for Schools" (ICAS), which again is an optional test run by UNSW Global catering for students in years 3 to 12 and assesses students skills in Digital Technologies, English, Mathematics, Science, Spelling and Writing. It is not even discussed and only a fraction of bright students take it to see where they stand internationally. Schools don't even take it seriously and consider that a waste of time because international standing of their kids is not important to them. Considering we are seriously lagging our Asian neighbours and also several other countries in the world, who are constantly being exposed to fierce competition at a much higher level than ours, both tests have merit. Even though NAPLAN is only a minor test, it is great we have a such a test that gives us an academic estimate of our child in the national and local context.

If government wants to see further improvement in literacy and numeracy, in a new plan our government should make it compulsory nation-wide, as this is the only way to obtain a true assessment of every kid in the nation. We need an absolute census on numeracy and literacy. A fusion model between NAPLAN and ICAS should be created, as times have changed and we need an overhaul of NAPLAN as a test approach for assessment. When the government is spending billions in providing computers to the schools and upgrading the IT systems for a better workflow, it is time to have rethink about making NAPLAN electronic so that it is completed in quick time and the results are disseminated faster, which will allow the teachers to to help their students in overcoming weaknesses. Getting stressed is a human nature and we humans have a remarkable capability to cope with stress. Our new generation is becoming couch potatoes, addicted to electronic gadgets and not making use of these smart gadgets to their benefit in literacy and numeracy. This needs to be looked into, as more and more schools are integrating smart devices into the curriculum and that includes NAPLAN.
(Dr) Nitin Saksena, Kellyville NSW

It provides a snapshot of national education trends that helps track student performance and allocate resources.

Education minister Kate Jones will meet parent associations across the state to tackle the huge withdrawal rates from NAPLAN.

“Alongside in-class assessments and report cards, NAPLAN tests are an important diagnostic tool that show a student’s strengths and areas needing improvement,” Ms Jones said.
The Courier Mail, 7 August

The National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is doing what it was designed to do — provide a report card on school, state, and national progress in the fundamental areas of reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

While the national and state level NAPLAN results cannot tell us what has contributed to changes in student achievement, this is not the full extent of what NAPLAN offers. It also provides schools with finely-grained data on the performance of their students that they can use to investigate their classroom teaching strategies and the strength of their school programs. Schools have access to data showing in which questions their students excelled and those they did not. If a school sees that few of their students gave correct answers to the questions in the numeracy test involving fractions, for example, they know this area of teaching requires attention.

Parents also receive detailed information about their child’s test results. Parents who do not place much stock in NAPLAN can ignore the student report if they choose, but for parents who want some guidance on their child’s performance relative to other children across the state and the country, NAPLAN is a much-needed source of information. It is not a perfect assessment¬ ― no test is perfect ― but it gives parents a starting point to ask questions about their child’s education. Bringing the test online will eventually reduce the amount of time between testing and reporting.

NAPLAN shines a spotlight on school performance every year. It does not tell policy makers, principals and teachers how to improve student performance, but it shows where the strengths and weaknesses lie, and is a valuable resource.
Jennifer Buckingham, The Centre of Independent Studies, 05 August

Comments on NAPLAN media stories

Why? I went to primary school in the 70's. We had endless tests, spelling, comprehension, maths. I liked the reading stuff, I dreaded times tables tests, but guess what, I still know them all. The tests weren't 'fun' but they were just part of school, some bits of school were fun, some not so much fun, that's just the way it was.
05 Aug 2015 3:08:30pm

I really don't understand what's wrong with giving kids tests. Being tested is something that will happen one way or another at some point, a job interview is a type of test, and these days many of them incorporate actual tests. Even if you don't want an academic/Uni career you will be tested in high school and the workforce. Someone shows you how to stack a shelf, you them demonstrate you can do it, that's a test. Better teach kids how to cope with them when they are young I reckon.
05 Aug 2015 3:15:34 pm

None of my kids were ever stressed by primary school NAPLAN test. Why would a primary school kid be stressed by such a test, anyway. I have also never heard a (non teacher) parent complain, either.

Obviously they are imperfect, and obviously some schools have demographic settings that make it harder to achieve, but they are far better guide than no guide at all.
05 Aug 2015 3:42:21pm

I agree. We had lots of tests, including those similar to NAPLAN for the educational research council. Like the NAPLAN, they didn't contribute to our final year marks. The teacher would just say one day, we will be doing this test today. We had no warning, no cramming to learn how to do well in the test, and the teacher told us, it wouldn't contribute to our marks, but it was a useful opportunity to practice what we had learned. Therefore, there was no stress.

I think the difference today is the way that teachers deal with this accountability, by pushing the children to get good scores so that they will look good themselves. Any stress on the children is probably due to teacher pressure on them to perform. NAPLAN is still a good idea. It's also great feedback to the parent as well as the school.
05 Aug 2015 5:16:38pm

From an emotional perspective, tests are neither good nor bad: they're simply tools.
05 Aug 2015 4:02:02pm

I may be wrong I haven't had any kids at school for many years but my understanding is it is the system which is being tested not the individual students so why should they be stresses. Maybe the stress is coming from home.
06 Aug 2015 6:39:59am

When I did my schooling back in the 60s & 70s we were subjected to end of term examinations which gave the teachers an indication of which subjects we were struggling with and needed more help with.
In the final year of High school we were subjected to a comprehensive examination the results of which determined our employment future.

I think the hype surrounding this test is causing more stress for the over protective parents than it is for the children. If it was just part of the normal school year testing then nobody would know the difference.
Stop wrapping kids up in cotton wool and let them see that not everything is rosy and it is OK to fail if you learn from the failure. Did that personally in the last year of school and repeated the grade and achieved the career I wanted.
06 Aug 2015 11:59:51am

NAPLAN is fantastic!
I understand that there is still a small group of teachers that are grumpy about being held to account for their performance... but from my perspective it is a win/win.... I get to see how my kids are performing and I get to see how my tax dollars are being spent....
05 Aug 2015 6:02:28pm

Teaching, individually or collectively, does have measurable inputs and outcomes. If we know what's being taught, and can assess that through testing, we can have a broad understanding of what's effective and what isn't. That does require more detail: is the child's learning at issue, or the teacher's behaviour, or the content?
05 Aug 2015 4:17:12pm

What you do not measure, you can not control. What you do not control, you can not improve.

NAPLAN is a big instrument and its measurements can be interpreted at many levels. Maybe people, schools and governments still have to learn how to do that (effectively). But simply abolishing NAPLAN would be the wrong reaction because then it will be back annecdote / conviction driven decision making.
06 Aug 2015 11:40:24am

Raw data (which is what NAPLAN provides) … gives us the observations upon which we can base theories (or prove established theories).

The "well-established markers for progress and success" need to be shown to impact on the observations we see (such as the raw data from NAPLAN) in order to verify that they ARE actually markers rather than just ignorant ideas about what affects an individual's progress and success.
05 Aug 2015 3:13:34pm

Based purely on my own experience, I can say that NAPLAN was extremely useful for us.

Out two kids were very different: the eldest - a boy - was extremely bright, easily bored, attention span of a gnat and prone to be disruptive. Our daughter was quiet, slipped under the radar, never got into trouble but a bit lazy.

Our son's school reports were consistently marked down both on effort (fair enough) and achievement, whereas our daughter's school reports gave the impression that she was an academic high-flyer, when in fact those glowing reports were because she was such an unchallenging delight in the classroom.

After they sat their respective NAPLAN tests we got the full picture. Our son's results were astonishingly good, whereas our daughters were OK, but really nothing special. The NAPLAN test was untainted by the teachers' prejudice (either way), so was accurate. Getting those results enabled us to get to the nub of the problem, zeroing in on our son's tendency to boredom and making sure our daughter's work ethic improved.

NAPLAN is not the universal panacea, and yes it has become an obsessively narrow focus for some schools, but based on our own experience, some form of standardised testing is clearly essential, both for schools AND for parents.
The NAPLAN test isn't supposed to improve the education system, it is supposed to measure it and give us information with which we can improve it. It seems to be doing its job.
05 Aug 2015 3:56:19pm

I want my kids measured because I want that information. I will not show the results to anyone else however.
05 Aug 2015 4:48:15pm

A common point of criticism for NAPLAN is that it unduly stresses students. What a load of rubbish. The people stressing themselves are a minority of teachers and parents. I've had three boys make their way through school, the youngest now in year 10, and they've all participated in NAPLAN. The boys, who range from academically weak to quite strong, have never been concerned, NAPLAN is just another set of tests or exams to be expected. There will always be some proportion of students who get worried, especially if fed negative thoughts by parents and teachers, but for the majority the testing provides a positive stressor.

Then there are the very specific examples of those who avoided or rorted or otherwise devalued the tests and the argument that those examples somehow make the whole of NAPLAN worthless. NAPLAN tests several hundred thousand students each year. The type of rare outlier examples quoted really aren't going to affect the results at national or state level, and in most cases probably not at school level. You don't throw out a valuable tool such as NAPLAN because of some outlier behavior.
06 Aug 2015 6:50:40am

As a teacher of secondary and VET students I do not always agree with Dr Buckingham but on this matter she is quite correct , NAPLAN is achieving its intended purpose of tracking general trends in the performance of young people in Primary and Secondary numeracy and literacy programs.

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Principal of Mount Gravatt State High School in Brisbane, Richard Usher, said his school has achieved improved outcomes by tailoring support to each student "clearly explaining the goals of each lesson to students, checking understanding and providing effective feedback in a consistent way across the school".
The Australian Financial Review, 5 August

David James ("Why Shakespeare would have failed NAPLAN", Comment, 2/8) may be correct that Shakespeare would have failed the year 9 NAPLAN test. But to judge NAPLAN without acknowledging the requirements of the modern world is indulgent. For example, faced with 100 or more applicants for a job, employers rightly use incorrect spelling and grammar as a means to shortlist applicants, as these conventions are one way that demonstrate the attention to detail they so prize.

While it is a mistake to judge a student or a school solely by NAPLAN results, the test remains one way to comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and the effectiveness of schools' teaching strategies. For parents living in a busy world with busy lives, it is often the only way they can independently verify their children's understanding of the range of skills NAPLAN assesses.
Paul Cocks, Ivanhoe
The Age, Melbourne, Letters (page 17), 3 August 

Parents love honest, open accountable government and education, and what are schools charged with doing? Teach, and NAPLAN does a good job at measuring that - and a far better job than what existed before - because before NAPLAN, there was NOTHING.

Yes it measures maths, reading, and so on... not basket-weaving skills. At the end of the day, schools are there to TEACH our kids, and it measures that. Your teachers write school reports so you know how the touchy-feely stuff is going, and you can get the whole picture!

NAPLAN tests the most basic numeracy and literacy skills. Students who have the basic skills have no reason to be stressed. It's easy.

While NAPLAN tests have flaws (what tests don't?) if a kid cannot read, write and add up in comparision to his peers, there is an issue and it needs to be resolved.

We need more standardised testing not less. We need to be able to assess school performance so that those schools that consistently fail to meet basic standards can be identified. We also need to identify those teachers that consistently underachieve. We need to reward excellent teachers and weed out the poor performers. But most importantly, parents need information so they can make an informed choice about which school will best suit their kids.
The Australian, 23 June (subscription required)

The environment helps you get used to test conditions and the atmosphere that we will have for the scholarship and selective tests, which I'm still a bit scared about.
Ashwin Rajeswaran, Year 3 student

We are really looking forward to reading and to maths.
Georgia Stewardson, Year 7 student

It had questions we usually do in real life in textbooks. We had experience in Year 3 as well.
Year 5 student

It was very easy because you normally do everything… basically things you did in Year 2 but just made a little bit harder.
Year 3 student

It was easy because for spelling questions, the words that had incorrect spelling were commonly used.
Year 5 student
The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May

NAPLAN complements a whole range of assessments that take place in the school.

We feel it's just a regular day and we let the kids know there is nothing to be stressed about. What we ask is that students do the best they possibly can, and we always hope the results will be improving.
Deb McCreadie, acting principal
The Wellington Times, 18 May

NAPLAN should not be ignored but used as one of the many tools to assess the performance of the student cohort and the school itself. It is a great measure of basic numeracy and literacy required in everyday life and future study in any discipline. 
The Advertiser, 20 May

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NAPLAN has really helped me and forced me to look at the areas I need to work on. For me that has been numeracy and hopefully I’ve achieved that.
John Leao, Year 9 student

The results were crucial for parents and educators.

It does put stress on the students, some more so than others, but for us it’s another piece of very important data. It’s not the be all and end all, but it certainly helps us.

NAPLAN is all about getting a snapshot of where the student is at this point in time.

And this is also important for parents and teachers, so we know exactly where they’re at with their learning, so we can find out where their strengths are and the areas of concern we need to work on.

And for some students this will be the only formal examination experience they will have before the Higher School Certificate.
Michael Fuller, assistant principal
The Maitland Mercury, 18 May 

[NAPLAN] provides information for both parents and teachers about how their child is travelling, not just in relation to their class, but students nationally.

It is also an opportunity to demonstrate what they learn in class.

We also try to encourage students to think of it as another day at school, and that it is not the be all and end all.

It’s a snapshot of where they are up to.
Meleesa Smith,
relieving principal at Eglinton Public School

NAPLAN has two purposes. It focuses on the point in time data of students, and is therefore useful as a snapshot.

NAPLAN sits alongside other diagnostic tools in measuring the relative strength of a year group, or cohort, compared to the state and national average.

It is a little less reliable than the School Certificate used to be, but it is the only tool we have to show how they are placed.

Dr Peter Miller,
Head of All Saints’ College
The Western Advocate, 18 May

I think it is a good idea moving Naplan to computer because my hand gets sore after writing a lot. Writing is still important but I am used to a keyboard and I prefer it.
Elise, Year 5 student
 The Daily Telegraph, 16 May

Kylie Ind, who has two children undertaking the National Assessment Program - literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) today, said she does believe the tests are a useful tool as schools move towards a national curriculum. Her advice to her Year 5 and 7 children before they left for school today was simply to 'do their best'.

"It's a snapshot in time," she said.
ABC South East SA, 13 May

From my experience of the in house testing conducted by our schools, anything other than an 'A Grade' is meaningless. NAPLAN is useful as it provides a more objective indication of a student's knowledge in a given area.

I work in a school and I find the kids quite calm, as is my own son who will sit it today for the first time. In fact, my son was telling his little brother how big he was now because he got to do Naplan.

I have, however, noticed many mothers withdraw their kids and I think it's as much about their own anxiety as the kids. We've been doing standardised tests for decades and if the results stopped being sensationalised, everyone might relax a bit about the test.
Comments to the article "Parents seek professional help over NAPLAN anxiety" 
published in the Courier Mail on 12 May

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As an English teacher of over a decade, I do have misgivings about the way the data from NAPLAN are used… but there is nothing inherently wrong with the test itself. I also believe the ability to write persuasively is a valuable skill to teach and to have. Again, it is necessary at Year 12 for the second writing task in the GAT - a test every student must take. If teaches are boring their students with weeks of lessons on regurgitating overly formulaic answers, then it is a failing of their own, not the test.
Louise, teacher

Thinking for yourself is a very important skill, and of course no test will 'fix' anything, but that's not the point of NAPLAN. It's designed as a snapshot, and a useful guide to how kids are progressing. The problems with the test come about when it's not used properly. Despite myriad warning and guidelines, 'teaching to the test' is a self-generated problem created by teachers and some parents. NAPLAN doesn't require fixing, the attitudes of the people who use it do. Of course the unions hate it, because, while imperfect, it's one of the few attempts at objectively measuring performance that we have. Note: no-one's come up with a better way to understand educational progress, because the people who hate NAPLAN are in fact anti- the concept of measurement, or obsessive but poorly informed parents who use it for things it was never designed for, like choosing schools.

I appreciate what you are saying but we need something which reveals the standard of the students (as a whole) and students who need help (as individuals) and the standard of teachers (at school level).
Currently, 46% of Australian adults cannot read to adequately perform in Australian society. (ABS, Literacy and Life Skills survey). They were once students of NAPLAN age.

In fact, 35% of students leave school with insufficient literacy skills to get employment. These students would earlier haave been employed in manual jobs, but Australia has very few manual jobs left - they have been automated, or taken by skilled workers on machines, or simply disappeared.
The number of 46% comes as a shock to most people, yet it exists in two ABS surveys, and in a worldwide OECD survey. It is the reason for Gonski.

A small effort can see that the 40% of adults currently on welfare has its roots firmly in this literacy problem - they cannot get jobs, It explains the social outcomes visible in the Mt Druitt SBS television program, and explains the surge in disability welfare, as long term unemployed shift to escape the nonsense of fruitless job interviews.

So regardless of the issues you identified, NAPLAN serves a purpose. It is more about revealing areas of teacher failure, but teachers will always struggle in low-socio economic areas, where illiteracy is inherited.

I'm a parent and I fully support Naplan testing. My children's schools have never put excessive effort in preparing the kids specifically for Naplan. The teachers would just brief the kids on the format of the tests.... that's it. As such, I couldn't understand this worry about Naplan preparation being at the expense of other stuff. Even so, I believe the teachers can teach about writing (or any other subject) in whatever suitable way which is not Naplan specific and it will still benefit the kids when taking the Naplan tests.
I value any form of feedback about my child's abilities while acknowledging Naplan results should not be viewed in isolation to other forms of feedback. In fact, I worry more with a system that does not provide enough feedback. I'm not one of those parents who is afraid for their kids to take any form of tests. If my kid is not doing well, I want to know ASAP. The annual meetings with the class teach teachers are like speed dating....lasting less than 5 minutes each.

Naplan also have the advantage of being applied to the entire school system nationally and independently assessed. So it is a fair indicator of where our kids stand. I find that it is the teaching profession who is always harping that Naplan is useless. Could it be that they feel like they are being assessed as teachers every time Naplan results come out? I don't blame teachers for bad results. I just ask the teacher or myself what can be done to improve my kid.
Billy, parent

Also, Naplan gives me a focus to teach the kids a bit of maths every two years which is not taught at any or the school they have attended. Not "teaching to the test", just teaching pretty basic primary school maths.
T, parent

As a parent I am also concerned by the individual school reporting. For example my son was consistently given "c" (at the level) for both English and Math by teachers but NAPLAN show he was above 95 percentile in math but below 50 percentile in English. This allowed as a parent to assist my son more on English.
Waza, parent

Naplan is nothing more than a simple, structured tool for measuring some basic education goal posts. Sure its boring. Its looking at a bare minimum of student (and school) capabilities. Its not an end in itself. If a student can't do well in a Naplan test (for what ever reason) then they are likely to be handicapped in expressing themselves well later on in life.

It is unfortunate that this accountability and transparency has had to be "imposed" by the government. It would have been preferable for this to have come from the sector and profession; however failing this I am grateful the NAPLAN provides at least some transparency, benchmarking and accountability (and my kids are non fussed)
Anna, parent

As a parent, I always found it provided a useful and interesting insight into how our children were progressively from test to test, and how they compared to children in their own school and around the state.

They also provided an insight into how your child was progressing in terms of basic learning skills, including, reading, writing and maths.

I can understand why schools that don't rate so well and parents of children that aren't performing as well as they'd like might be unhappy with Naplan tests. But why should education be the only industry that doesn't have to meet KPI's? Why should teachers not also be assessed on how they are going so that those struggling to meet required standards are given help to improve or encouraged to change jobs, and those doing well, rewarded?
Michael, parent
Comments to the article "NAPLAN does not have the write stuff"
published in The Age on 11 May

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Of course the NAPLAN tests are academic tests, a snapshot of where a student is at on a particular day. It clearly doesn't test for talents, skills and attitudes in a multitude of areas. Tell kids the truth - short tests to show how you are going at a point in time. Do your best and just try hard. Formal tests are going to become more common as students progress through the years.
Sandra, teacher

For goodness sake, the hullabaloo about kids taking the NAPLAN test is ludicrous, including the teachers who pass on their own insecurities to the kids. The NAPLAN test is simply to ensure that kids are on track in literacy and numeracy. Heaven forbid that any child actually has to compete or have their skills tested in any way!
Comments to the article in the Daily Mail Australia, 11 May

We use it as a way to see where kids are sitting with literacy and numeracy... It's mapped to the Australian curriculum.

There are some questions that test a bit higher and if kids are performing at that level we can put extensions programs in place and develop programs to ensure they continue to achieve at that level.

It is valuable when it is used to have a look at a group of children.

The reality is in 10-12 weeks we'll have the raw data ... We'll look at our data against national trends.

If we do better in one area, that's of interest to us because it's something we're doing well and if the rest of Australia answers something better than us, then we'll have to look at it.
Chris Hills, principal
The Morning Bulletin, 12 May

Very simplistically, a child’s results are presented in a four-page folder which shows wherethey sit across literacy and numeracy testing in line with the school and the national average. And that’s the exciting part. After getting an actual metric on how your child performed you can then can put the report in a drawer never to be looked at again.

They can also red flag an issue concerning your child or the school and you may wish to find out more. It’s your

call because it’s unlikely anyone is going to proactively seek you out to talk to you about your child’s results.

I’m not fussed about my kids sitting these en-masse tests every couple years and I am entertained by seeing how they fare.

I understand that there are people in the know who are strongly opposed to standardised testing. But I’m just not seeing any great harm being caused by it.

Maybe I’m delusional or have missed an important argument. But I will be waiting excitedly next term to see how my daughter performed.

For a lot of parents like me, the biennial National Assessment Program – literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) may provide the only quantifiable snapshot, at least in primary school, of how their kids are faring in literacy and numeracy.

I’m not fussed about my kids sitting these en-masse tests every couple years and I am entertained by seeing how they fare.

I understand that there are people in the know who are strongly opposed to standardised testing. But I’m just not seeing any great harm being caused by it.
Fiona Baker, editor and parent
The Kidspot website, 12 May

We need to remember that it is one measure of how students are performing.

Mistakes are sometimes a good thing as it gives us the opportunity to know what to teach next.
Beth Godwin, principal
The Daily Telegraph, 12 May

I'm currently in year 7 and NAPLAN is tomorrow. For any parent or child who is reading this, dont worry about Naplan, it won't affect your selective school marks, or your yeary of half-yearly report, it's just for statistics. I speak from experience, I never studied for Naplan and yet I got into North Sydney Boys High School, one of the top schools in NSW. Trust me, it's all things you have learnt before, and at most just revise the nots you took in class and you'll be fine.
Jeff, student

How else are we going to know how children are going academically? My son is now 21, but the NAPLAN tests were about the only true indication of his academic progress when he was in primary school, thanks to the ridiculous reports that were sent home. Why are parents and teachers so against NAPLAN? I absolutely loved those tests.

I'm sick of the NAPLAN whining. There is an option to opt out of NAPLAN if you don't like it. I really do like it, for the same reason as you - a good indicator of academic progress. My eldest was in the first cohort of grade 3 students to do it (so finished with Naplan now) - and he was feeling unwell in grade 7 and completely bombed in all test but it didn't matter. The other two are about to sit grade 5 and grade 9 NAPLAN.

Everyone frothing about NAPLAN needs to calm down. It's standardised testing that serves a huge purpose - to direct resources where they are most needed. I'm sorry but not every little snowflake is special and the world is a big, competitive place where they will have to get used to competing for university places and competing for employment. No workplace will give two hoots how 'amazingly special' they are.
The Mamamia website, 12 May

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St Augustine’s College head of school, Matt Hutchison, said senior staff had implemented new programs in response to test results.

“I’m a fan of NAPLAN because it provides data on the individual, but also on teachers,” he said.

They can ask, "Have I taught something well?"

Teachers can only improve learning outcomes by improving the quality of instruction.

In terms of impact on the current academic year it’s a touch late, but it allows you to put in place education programs for next year.
The Daily Telegraph, 11 May

Principal of St Therese’s Primary School, New Lambton, Duilio Rufo, said his school saw the tests as a ‘‘point in time’’ measure of student ability. ‘‘There’s much more to children’s education than one set of questions,’’ he said, ‘‘But it allows us to have a look at how the kids are trending and if we have a recurring pattern that crops up every year, we can look at specific areas’’.
The Newcastle Herald, 8 May

NAPLAN results tell me more about my children's strength's and weaknesses than their school reports ever do. I see it as a test of what they know, what they need help with and a visual look at how far they have come. I am all for it.

Tracey Corbin-Matchett, parent

School reports are the pits. Not sure how other schools do it but even our comments are pretty much cut and paste. I know my daughter can count and I know my daughter can read but what Naplan tells me is whether she needs help or not. Wouldn't you rather catch any problems earlier rather then later.
Shannon Murray, parent

I have had kids at 8 schools... and this is the first one where I only found out about it through other means! Yay... low key, just like its supposed to be. No 'pre tests' no 'sample tests' nothing!! I have one who will do well and one who will not, but it will give us a clear understanding of where she is and where she's going. Parents and teachers need to step back and let the testing do what its meant to do... take a snap shot of their learning on that particular day.
Julianne Keefe, parent

NAPLAN is a useful tool that provides a lot of diagnostic information for schools and for teachers about a class, a cohort or an individual student.
Hoonar, former teacher
WAtoday, 30 April

With Naplan results comes a lot of pressure and push from within regional centres to improve overall results. naplan is a great diagnostic tool to help us analyse individual student weaknesses and strengths across numeracy and literacy, it also helps us gauge where our students are, how they are travelling compared regionally across the nation. this is most important in remote areas where we can compare like schools and low-high social economic areas.

so like i was saying - once we receive the results, we spend ALOT of resources and time developing strategies to improve the results for say... year 7 students, before they reach year 9, we have 2 years to demonstrate how we will pickup these students to move above or beyond the national average.
Simon, teacher
Lifehacker, 25 April

Personally, I have found NAPLAN very helpful in identifying some serious academic shortcomings in one of my children. Not that I didn't know there were problems with her academic performance, but with NAPLAN's nation wide ranking system it highlighted just how bad it was.
Colette, parent

I like Naplan it gives me a unbiased snap shop of where my child sits it the state.
Julie, parent
The Daily Telegraph, 21 April

There are times when one doubts the assessment literacy of the Teachers Federation ("Computers to mark written NAPLAN exam", April 29). To say that computer marking of essays is unsophisticated is to place an Airbus 380 in the same category as a tricycle. For too long, have we known that largescale marking of essays can be done more consistently and accurately than human markers. Ask any aggrieved student in the HSC or at a university about the subjectivity involved in essay marking.

While you are at it, why not ask educational authorities to inform each student of the disparity in markers' ratings for an essay question. That will set the cat among the pigeons.

Computers are very good at processing natural language. If they are not, then they have been instructed poorly by, guess what, a human being. Essay marking is essentially a judgment based on criteria and computers beat humans hands down when it comes to doing this thousands of times. First of all, a set of essays are hand marked and a model is created for scoring.

We have the opportunity to implement a fair and objective system but we are plagued by assessment Luddites.
James Athanasou 
letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April

The idea behind NAPLAN is sound. Unfortunately it does not provide a snapshot as some schools focus on preparation and some parents buy books specifically designed to help their children perform well. NAPLAN is not about pass or fail. It is supposed to be a tool to aid education and I have seen it used really constructively by some schools.
Merryl Blaxland
Canberra Times, 29 April

NAPLAN will only be an effective tool when the results are returned in a significantly faster time. Currently, the turnaround is 4 months. The data NAPLAN provides for schools (for those who bother to use the software fully) is actually incredibly detailed and very helpful. I spend days analysing all of the data for each student, and the diagnostic benefit is excellent. That, combined with the links to appropriate remedial resources, makes it a very useful package overall.
Canberra Times, 29 April

It is sad to see that Justin Coulson has nothing positive to say about Naplan ("Admit it, Naplan is a complete failure", Daily Telegraph, 21 April 2015).

We talk about the stress and experienced in our children because of Naplan, but these are the same children who are hooked on electronic gadgets, always walking with their heads down making no eye contact and displaying anti-social behaviour.

We as parents are losing control of our own children. If not for the government we would have no real measure of our child's ability as Naplan is the only viable alternative for such an assessment.

Getting rid of Naplan will not stop children's anxiety and stress over exams. That's human nature and Coulson, being a psychologist, should know that.

Money spent on Naplan is not a waste as it provides valuable data on schools and their standards. It is the only measure we have that tells us about schools' demographic disparities and quality of education.

Before we trash Naplan we should remember that we are seriously lagging our Asian neighbours in academic performance. If we don't make such tests compulsory only half our students will be assessed.

Nevertheless, some of the negatives about Naplan are worth considering. The government and policymakers need to work together to make such tests more dynamic and digitally smart so we can have quick and timely assessments. This will help students rectify their weaknesses before the final term.
Nitin Saksena, Kellyville
Daily Telegraph, 22 April

 …Education is like a business between the family and the school. NAPLAN is the third party to assess the outcome of the education. someone may say it doesn't assess all the metrics, but that's fine, at least it assess those basic domains that easy to assess, and those schools can finally be held accountable for their services. In addition, Schools can't replace families on children's personality development, so let's back to basics, teach them how to read, write and calculate, and with these skills and growing confidence, the kids develop themselves!
Simo, parent,
The Advertiser

Naplan provides indicative performance levels across subect areas (it does not claim to do anything else), it is not meant to be a comprehensive assessment of any particular school. It does not take away the responsibility of any parent to do thier own assessment.
The Advertiser

The various data shared by ACARA provide important information for parents, teachers, principals and educational leaders, but the full story of a school needs a deeper understanding and direct experience,”

“The My School update on ‘high-gain’ schools has reiterated something that we already knew: That schools of all sizes, in all regions and from all sectors are providing quality teaching and learning that is making a real difference to the students in their care,” Mr Fox said.
Ross Fox, Executive Director,
National Catholic Education Commission

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The My School website provides insight to help understand how individual schools are performing, and what their strengths are.

My School is a valuable source of information for parents and carers, and is backed up by the value of speaking to the principal and teachers, and observing the progress made by students in the classroom.
Joy Burch, Minister for Education and Training,
ACT Legislative Assebmly

[My School] is a valuable resource based on seven years of data updated annually.

We have always emphasised that visits to a prospective school, examination of its website and discussions with other parents are an essential part of research to find the right school for each child.
Michelle Green,
Chief Executive
Independent Schools Victoria

We are actually really thrilled that our results are improving.

Students really like that conversation about their learning and the areas they need to improve on.
Sandy Richardson, Principal, Roma Mitchell Secondary 
The Australian

NAPLAN is a snapshot of how a student is performing at one point.

One thing we don't do is teach to prepare students for a good result in NAPLAN. We think that if students are taught correctly then they should get a good result anyway.

Dubbo performs well, but still room for improvement in NAPLAN.
Michael Cronk, Director, Public Schools, Macquarie
Daily Liberal

(Wantirna South Primary School, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, was on the high gain list for improvements in numeracy in Year 3--5.)

The school was "due recognition for the hard work put in by staff".

We're always striving to get better and by getting better the children get better.

Not every child's an academic, but if we get their literacy and numeracy right, then everything else will fall into place.

If the children are happy to come to school then learning will take place.
Wayne McDonald, Principal, Wantirna South Primary School

(Our Lady of Mercy College made it to the high gains list for improvement in the field of numeracy in Year 7--9.)

... It was a good way of affirming people for what they were doing.

We've been on a journey of thinking about the way we work in maths for five or six years.

When you get some external affirmation it really does continue to bring new energy to what you're doing so it is really important to us.

NAPLAN is a diagnostic tool that we use.

We spend a lot of time looking at the data that comes from that, but not to improve our NAPLAN results, but to improve our students learning in maths.

NAPLAN results: Data shows 59 Victorian schools made big improvements in literacy and numeracy
Julie Ryan, Principal, Our Lady of Mercy College

Many of the results are very pleasing, really satisfying.

The student gain is an important area to look at and it's very consistent. The strength of our school through Years 3--9 is excellent.
Simon Price, Principal, St Mary's Catholic School
Wellington Times

(For Farrer Primary School acting principal Linda Heath, the results are a tiny snapshot of improvements across all areas of learning at the school.)

All of the staff are proud. We work really hard and we love to see results.

We look at and analyse a lot of data, and we concentrate on a number of areas of learning, including science and environmental science here at Farrer.
Linda Heath, acting Principal, Farrer Primary School 
Canberra Times

(Murtoa College Principal Tony Goodwin said he liked the NAPLAN testing method, but it was not the be-all and end-all indicator of a school's ability to educate students.)

The use of data is very important. What comes out with NAPLAN is one of the best tools we have to advise us on student progress.

The importance for us is looking at the relative growth and now we can look at that growth across a single cohort.

The school used the results to identify areas that might need extra attention.

We put in strategies to change things across the whole school. All our teachers will address the issue.

For example, if we've found in our grade five cohort spelling was down, we would address that.
Tony Goodwin, Principal, Murtoa College
The Wimmera Mait-Times

(Edenhope College Principal Robyn Hollis said it was important to remember NAPLAN was just one way to measure results.)

"It is great when you have good results. We did last year and we saw improvements across some cohorts and we were stoked to see those results.

NAPLAN measures specifically the test they run at that point in time.

Some students might not perform well at NAPLAN, but can go on to have excellent outcomes in their education and life. 
Robyn Hollis, Principal, Edenhope College
The Wimmera Mait-Times

I’ve seen the marks and results of those exams. That actually helped us and showed us our level of skill.
Taha Zahab, student

They (her parents) will be happy to know that I did really well in NAPLAN and that my studying paid off. 
Zara, student

I was surprised with my results because I wasn’t sure if I was going to do well.
Queenie Desplat, student

it makes me feel good about how the teachers have taught us how to do well and how we’re representing our school academically. 
Marko Veledinovic, student
Nation's school showing overall improvement in academic resultsSBS World News

One thing we don't do is teach to prepare students for a good result in NAPLAN. We think that if students are taught correctly then they should get a good result anyway.
Michael Cronk, Director, Public Schools, Macquarie
Dubbo performs well, but still room for improvement in NAPLANDaily Liberal

NAPLAN is one measure that you do use to validate what you’re doing.

…working together collaboratively to work out what to teach them to ensure that they all learn at really high levels
Monique Carter, Principal, Lansdowne Crescent PS
Education minister denies favouring independent schoolsABC

We've been on a journey of thinking about the way we work in maths for five or six years.

When you get some external affirmation, it really does continue to bring new energy to what you're doing so it is really important to us.

NAPLAN is a diagnostic tool that we use.

We spend a lot of time looking at the data that comes from that, but not to improve our NAPLAN results, but to improve our students learning in maths.
Principal Julie Ryan, Our Lady of Mercy College
NAPLAN results: Data shows 59 Victorian schools made big improvements in literacy and numeracyABC

We expect to do well, but we won't be resting on our laurels.

We identified spelling as an area we wanted to improve in and we are working hard to upskill our teachers in ways they can teach spelling.

Results can go up and down each year -- we're more interested in the long-term trends.
Nigel Grant, Director of Learning and Innovation, Scots PGC College
Warwick schools showing progress in NAPLANWarwick Daily News

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We looked at the data from 2013 to set goals for 2014 and made reading our focus.

I’m glad across the board that has improved.

This year we will set our goals based on the latest data and we will focus on writing.

The data that is provided is a fantastic tool.
Mark MacLean, Holy Spirit Primary School Principal
Writing: The main worry in NAPLAN, The Border Mail

The other key thing we’ve done is change student mindsets about the testing.

We’ve encouraged them to do the best they can rather than seeing it as another day at school without applying themselves.

I’m reluctant to prepare the students for this with practice testing, it’s really designed to be a point in time test to see how these kids are going.

But we do spend time talking about bringing the right equipment and planning to be there on time.

Principal Timothy Petterson, St Philip’s Christian College
Hunter schools above average for NAPLAN, Newcastle Herald

I believe it (NAPLAN) is useful because it provides a snapshot of where students are at.

In the notion of growth, it’s the best yard stick to measure kids’ progress.

We’ve done pretty well over the years and this is certainly indicating a significant amount of growth in our students.

At the end of the day it’s good teaching and we pride ourselves on making sure we have plenty of support for our students in their learning. 
Principal Peter Reid, Para Hills School
NAPLAN results released for South Australian schools, The Australian

In business it is widely recognised that you can demonstrate improvement if you can measure it. The NAPLAN isn't just about measuring a basic skills test it is about providing the ability to identify those high performing areas, researching what makes them be the highest improvers and then putting in place strategies to replicate that across all schools. When that is done the improvement vastly outweigh the money spent on it.
Lance, commenter

I agree that the NAPLAN statistics can never present a comprehensive picture of a school. It was never intended that it do say. However, they present an important snap-shot of academic achievement that allows parent's to track their child's standing over time and give them a realistic idea of where their child stands on a national basis, something that is impossible to ascertain from regular school reports. The absentee rate provided also gives parents important information about a school.
LP, commenter

A thirty minute test sat in familiar surroundings with familiar teachers should not be a stressful experience, unless, of course, parents or teachers have made it so by over-emphasising its importance & making kids practice for it. At my son's school it is no more stressful that any other day & there is no rehearsal. And I have never heard any of the parents talking about it at the school gate.
Jem, commenter

David, the "time wasted" for teachers by NAPLAN tests is about an hour & a half per year for the three tests. Hardly onerous. And children in years 3-9 should not be "stressed" by sitting for a test surrounded by their usual school peers. By that stage they should be used to sitting for regular tests & assessments that are part of the school routine.
Ann, commenter

Most parents want My School (even with its limitations). It allows them to make some comparison of schools - so they can make a more informed decision when choosing schools for their children (if they live in the metro area and can choose a school and not be stuck with limited or no choice like our country cousins).

These blogs always have the usual negative comments about My School from the Bleeding Heart Brigade and usual band of whingeing current and ex Teachers/Principals who don't like being held to account by anything - and would rather bag My School and whinge - than focus on improving the results of the students they teach. These are the same mob that believe that the school reports our children bring home with meaningless words and grading all though them and that don't tell parents anything - are a good thing. God forbid that we give a report that rates someone as a Fail - because that might damage little Johnny or Mary’s ego and they will never be able to function again in society (note heavy dose of sarcasm).

My School has limitations - and anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows that - but it is valuable to parents and holds Principals/Teachers to account. It is here to stay because the majority of parents want it, and like it. Deal with that whingeing Principals/Teachers and the Bleeding Heart Brigade.
Long live My School.
Parent who supports My School, NSW, commenter

Great stuff. NAPLAN provides the answers we most often seek in other areas. Who/what is the best achiever and who/what is the most improved. It may not be perfect but it is still valuable information
ifonly, commenter
Sydney Morning Herald


In response to FB post on Mamamia: Calls for NAPLAN results to be kept secret to stop parents’ competitiveness. What do you think?

I find it a good resource. I am not a teacher, my child knows only her abilities, the schools have too many students to provide me with accurate information about every domain of my child's education. This is at least a point in which insufficient knowledge can be identified (by me as well as teaching staff), and focused on.

It is not about pitting child against child or school against school, it is a tool, that when used appropriately will help the individual and the masses.
Clair Jade Nunn

 I've said it before it is the schools responsibility to not make it so dramatic! My daughter did her first year of naplan last year & it was so insignificant she didn't even blink an eye about it or the school never made a big deal of it.

These schools that are making it an unnecessary drama are creating the pressure.

Bottom line is kids will have to do tests & exams the older they get, it is good practice for them to learn how deal with tests.

Especially these days when the level of learning is much greater & indepth then 10yrs ago
Sherree Miller

Everyone gets way to worked up about it. Use it as a tool to track how your child is doing in the school, state and country. I like it. Our school doesn't pressure the kids, the parents don't talk or boast about marks its just done quietly. I think everyone needs to just calm the heck down.
Loraine Guy

Results can be used in a positive way by parents. They show the areas where students might be having difficulties so parents can help their children.
Belinda Flesser

my son is doing this this year for the first time, just as the HSC with my daughter if the teachers and us have done our jobs right then we shouldnt have an issue, its not the end of the world its another tool to help everyone involved in helping our children , i think it would be a great tool to further help me help my child, parents and some schools need a reality check.
Ann Challinor 

What I have found with My School website, it's trying to inform and trying to also assist people in getting a better idea about … what school, what they're doing and how they're funded. I think it's trying to be inclusive… I think it's proactive. It's a good site.
parent, state/Catholic secondary school
Colmar Brunton Research (PDF 133 kb)

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St Monica’s Principal Louise O’Donnell said it made sense to use technology for NAPLAN:

A two-week turnaround for results will be extremely helpful to use for student learning.

Louise O’Donnell, Principal,
St Monica’s Catholic Parish Primary School

Comments from the Canberra Times readers:

Since we all live on the bell curve, I find it a very useful way of seeing how well my children are performing in comparison to others. The bad thing I see is both the private and public education sector trying to use NAPLAN as a marketing tool by teaching to the tests. My children's public school has a policy of not teaching to the tests and does very well I should add.
Bruce, parent

My oldest is in Year 3 so I'm looking closely at NAPLAN for the first time and I'm open minded… My kids go to a small school (125 K-6) and I'm very interested in how they are performing not just amongst such a small sample that the school provides but across a broader spectrum.

However, the 'stress and anxiety' bit is rubbish. If it's creating undue stress and anxiety, then the parents and/or teachers are obviously putting far too much weight in it. We've already discussed it with the one in year 3 and built it up as something interesting, even fun, a landmark event as the first of many, many exams to come. She won't be coached (besides whatever prep the teacher gives her).

And if there's a bit of stress and anxiety, well, welcome to the rest of your life. School can be stressful but it's a doddle compared to the what's to come after. It's as good a time as any to start preparing them with some resilience to cope with life.
Harvey, parent

As a parent, I feel I have a right to know how my child is performing on a broader basis. The fact that they are doing well or poorly in a particular school doesn't necessarily mean much, as schools differ vastly in their average standard. I think that the "stress & anxiety" factor is grossly exaggerated. The kids sit the test for 40 minutes or so in their usual classroom with their usual teacher. At my son's school, it is not stressed over, not prepared for and just like any other routine test or assessment at school.
Mia, parent

You know what? My son (year 5), my nieces (year 3 and 7) all loved the question and they are in a cross section of schools from western to northern Sydney. My son was graded at the top of the box for that question. He answered as a 10-year-old, that the laws should be changed in relation to asylum seekers. My 8-year-old niece answered that there should be more freedom in schools to choose the type of foods you eat.

Having said that, they both love tests. Some children love tests as a way of confirming what they know, not as a comparison. Their report cards don't do this for them.

My sister says NAPLAN is a way of testing teachers. To a degree I agree. But I just think there are some very articulate parents out there who make a big thing of it being too traumatic. Kids roll with all sorts of things. We just tell our child (and discuss it with him as we have since he was 2) that life is full of assessments. We are doing that every moment of the day as we make decisions about things. Testing our knowledge against any standard can only help societies understand where we need to improve.
Vinnie, parent

I've been teaching (history & English) for 10 years in public high schools. NAPLAN gives us a baseline of data. It does this well. Everyone student in the country does the same test (unless excused). We use these data extensively to help with differentiation in teaching. Last week (week 2) I accessed data for all of my (new) classes, giving me a valuable insight into their past performances.

There are problems with media ranking schools, and schools (sadly, usually private) skewing results, these are commercial decisions. And fraud. NAPLAN is a very useful tool, and it's brutal honesty unsettles people. It also holds them to account (both parents and educators)... People get uncomfortable when held to account. 
Anon, teacher

Well, just maybe teachers shouldn't be "preparing" kids for NAPLAN. That's not what it was set up for. Teachers should teach to the curriculum, not to what they think might be in NAPLAN. Teachers and schools have successfully transferred the stress of NAPLAN from the school executive to the kids. 

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2014 NAPLAN National Report and Test Incidents Report release

Parents refusing a NAPLAN test ("Parents boycotting NAPLAN tests", 10 December 2014, p. 3) is more to do with the snobbery of not wanting to be told what to do (similar to those who refuse to vaccinate), rather than any philosophical argument.

If parents think a child is going to be harmed by a test, they had better go buy a bulk order of cotton wool because life is full of challenges. Any parent who has no interest in knowing if their child is coping with the core subjects of the curriculum is questionable at best, putting their own preciousness before any potential benefit to the child.
Letter to the editor
Carolyn Hogan, Queanbeyan, NSW
Canberra Times, 12 December

Kids at school should know where they stand academically compared to other kids ("Test leaks and cheats hurt school exam plan", 10 December 2014).

It is important for schools to openly applaud academic achievements. Competitive tests and results do not create unnecessary stress. Last but not the least, it is not cool to be a fool.

We need tests like NAPLAN.

Let the kids be tested. Let them know the results. Let them strive for excellence. Let us help them get ready for the real world.

Padmini Sunderaj, Baulkham Hills
The Daily Telegraph
12 December

I know that all my NAPLAN results have been close to accurate for me, because my school reports have showed almost exactly the same results (being placed in the higher two quartiles) but some people perform better on a test that they've studied for, like in school rather than a three-day test which you've had no prep for. Although, most of it should have been already taught.

Ethaniel Corfield-Thompson
Daily Telegraph Facebook page
12 December 

It is kind of helpful knowing that's where I sit with the rest of Australia and the rest of my year.

Year 9 high school student, Nina Belakhov
SBS, 10 December

It gave me an idea of what I needed to either work on or what my strengths were compared to the rest of the people in my grade.

One year, I think it was Year 7, I noticed a lot of people in my class were better at English than I was but I was in the top band for maths.

So it was kind of interesting to see how the people in the same school differed and also to see how I compared to the rest of the year throughout New South Wales and Australia.

Year 9 high school student, Charlotte Trent
7 News, 10 December

NAPLAN is a valuable reference at a point in time, but needs to be put into context.

Those data are part of a series of ‘firsts’ that will improve the relevance of NAPLAN testing as part of a broad understanding of a student’s learning.

Classrooms are the front line of education and learning. Teachers, parents and the students themselves need to be constantly engaged to understand how each student is performing from week to week and from year to year.

It is encouraging to hear that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is already working on the next stage of improvements to NAPLAN.

Ross Fox, National Catholic Education Commission Executive Director
Media release by the National Catholic Education Commission
10 December

The idea behind NAPLAN is to give parents and teachers a snapshot of how children are going in reading, writing, use of the English language and arithmetic, compared with other children of the same age. The important word here is snapshot.

There is a danger that in withdrawing their child from NAPLAN they are missing out on important data about their child’s progress through school. This is particularly important if the opportunity is lost to identify cohorts of students who are in need of additional support.

Australian Parents Council
10 December

Suzanne G Kelly: Well, unfortunately we are constantly tested throughout our lives. I was of the belief that it was better to get used to tests because of the HSC, Uni and TAFE; There will be tests and important ones and life will always bring pressures...And if they don't score well, that should be a parents cue to get them some help or support. You shouldn't just rely on the school only to educate your kids.

Leisel O'Keefe: It's one test on one day which is a useful snapshot - along with a myriad of other formative and summative assessment strategies that provide us with feedback for learning. More importantly it provides us with an overview of progress across years and does instil some accountability. Which is a good thing! As a secondary English teacher I have noticed a dramatic improvement in the capacity of kids to write cohesively in extended writing tasks as a result of more directed instruction in the primaries.

Michelle Jones: NAPLAN is a revision test for all that the students have learnt from K-2. It reflects a snap shot in time of what your child can and cannot do academically. If your child is getting lower than average marks in NAPLAN then the parent needs to do something about it before the gap gets wider. Learning needs to take place at school and at home!

Toni Bayley: For goodness sake it's just a test. We welcomed NAPLAN in my home. It gave us an insight on how our 3 girls were going and we could then help them in the areas they may have been struggling and praise them for their hard work.

Jack Bremner: The fundamental of business is you can't improve what you don't measure. I don't understand why parents would be refusing to have their kid sit it.

Carl Malone: The exam provides very useful information on how the school is tracking and how our kids are doing compared to their fellow students. Selective schools take the top x%, there's no entry score- just comparisons. Bit like a job interview in that way. What else do we have that compares our kids on a level playing field

Foua Faleao Tavita Styles: Naplan is the best programme that has ever been introduced! It exercises children mentally, emotionally etc. And receiving results can be an amazing experience if you study hard enough! It's all part of learning. Just another day at school but with the extra push in studies which which is exactly what they should be encouraged on their daily school lives. School isn't a place where you drop off your child with their lunch to keep them out of the way for the day, it's a place for learning to prepare them for a future. I am a parent that AGREES WITH NAPLAN and stands by it!

La Ma: Thanks to NAPLAN I have seen an enormous improvement in the education delivered in the schools in my city. The schools have really lifted their game. And it needed a big lift!!! NAPLAN is improving the schools and improving the teachers.

Luna Petras: I think the exam is good, it teaches them to sit and do something for an hour or two in silence- which is a skill they need to do the HSC successfully. However, I do not agree with teachers drilling kids in class and spending time revising for this( I think this is a private school phenomena). This is a diagnostic test and thus should be a reflection of their strengths and weaknesses. Students and teachers can then evaluate and reflect on the results and see areas of improvements that can be incorporated into lessons in the future. There is no reason to stress kids out, it should be a "do your best" on the day exam. One thing that would make it better is if the results were available within the month so students and teachers can work together to address weaknesses in numeracy and literacy.

Jodie Sompel: I have an autistic son, never has he been asked not to participate. I feel it a valuable benchmark to look at where he is relative to other children and if and where he needs extra support. And tests/exams are a normal part of life, they need to learn to take them. I'd question the schools motivation, I believe schools who don't want certain kids to participate or do extra "coaching" have something to hide in their sloppy teaching methods.

Terrin Illingworth: Surely this has to be more about the approach to it from parents and schools rather than the tests themselves. My kids go to a school where not much emphasis is put on the tests only that the kids learn how to do tests that have marking automation formats. The kids dad and I choose to make sure that our kids know the test is about challenging themselves and they'll find out how they went later in the year. That comes from 2 different households too, that means they pretty much have no stress or anxiety associated with and the results speak for volumes. Both tests my eldest has done he has been in the top two bands and/or off the charts (in the arrow head). As kids go through school they're standardised against the rest of the population for all sorts of things uni entry being just one. Perhaps it's time we stop being so precious about it and leave it be. One other thing, If people are stressed about the curriculum not being taught one would imagine that the teachers/school have calculated NAPLAN into their overall yearly teaching for the grade level given it happens at the same time every year for years 3,5,7 (&9??). By participating they may still be learning, by keeping them at home it pretty well guarantees they won't be.

Chris Cnoohan: It provides teachers with information about student literacy and numeracy, so that they can target particular areas. It also provides information about students who need extra help so that they can leave school with functional literacy and numeracy.

ABC Facebook page
10 December

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“Generally parents like NAPLAN because they like to get as much information as they can about how their children are going at school – and NAPLAN fits that bill.

“But the main concern that parents have is the debate surrounding NAPLAN in the media. Obviously we would prefer that it returned to what it is intended to do – and that is to provide a good diagnostic tool to see how students are going in general."

Ian Dalton
Australian Parents Council Executive Director
Source: Education Matters magazine
November 2014

My name is Jodie Bache-McLean and I am the Director of June Dally-Watkins in Queensland.

I was absolutely thrilled to see the news story on the ACARA initiative on the roll out of the WORK STUDIES curriculum.

For me personally as a facilitator, this curriculum aligns with current programmes that I have delivered under the JDW banner throughout Queensland.

For many years I have tried to lobby that this subject matter be part of mainstream education.

I congratulate you on your efforts.

Best regards,

Jodie Bache-McLean 
Director, June Dally-Watkins Education & Training

9 October

National Assessment and Surveys Online Program: tailored test design 2013 study

'If the child succeeds in answers several questions correctly at Level 1, then is promoted to level 2 questions which pop up and proceeds to answer them correctly, maybe the child will be better able to be taught at their true level of understanding not just trying to keep up with the rest of the 5 or 7 or 9-year-olds. They may be Level 1 at maths and level 3 at reading but only level 2 at comprehension. This knowledge will certainly assist your child's teacher to work on the particular weaknesses while praising the good points. Or if the child has a great brain and does well at everything they can be put up a class in those particular subjects.'
Barbara L Smith

'From my understanding of the article, the test is only tailored in that it branches into 3 streams – "easy", "mainstream, and "challenging", as the kids progress through the exam – this still accurately assesses their abilities, in fact it would probably do a better job of doing so, as it alleviates their anxieties and that giving up feeling that comes when you just don't know the answers. I think it's a great idea!'
Melissa Worthington-Brown

'Adaptive testing is far superior to just giving everyone the exact same test – it measures level of understanding rather than ability to digest and regurgitate information.'
Des Embrey

'Speaking from actual experience of taking these tests only a few years ago: Anxiety is mainly the product of teachers/parents making 'the test' into something huge and terrifying, which it needn't be since it often doesn't even count towards your end of year marks. Tests like these are a valuable preparation for students who will go on to take exams in future (which is a lot of them). Whatever the flaws of an exam (and there are many) it's the main way of assessing students and the sooner they get used to the idea the better.'
Michael Wilson

'Why does everything have to be in terms of left and right, we are not all the same, anything to keep the children interested and engaged. It's better to know what children can do, rather than what they can't.'
Pat Paddy Gardner

'This is a great idea. The best way to improve the skills of children is to offer them challenges just above their level of ability so they can build on existing knowledge and understanding. They can then 'comprehend' the content of the exam and make a reasonable attempt at responding. They experience success at their level and this encourages them, and teaches them that work brings rewards. This is why the Mathletics, online maths teaching program, is so good. It can be individually tailored to meet each student's strengths and weaknesses so they improve in every aspect. If students don't understand the basics, they can't do more complex work in any learning area. It is called scaffolding. The whole point is that the child competes against her or himself. Not the whole state!'
Pari Gilmour

'Hooray .. Testing for what they know and not what they don't know (donut and not the hole); logistically a nightmare but step in right direction.'
Zana Schroeder

'As a primary teacher, I am pleased to hear NAPLAN is going to be individualized, it makes so much sense! Answers will still be either right or wrong but the question choices will automatically be adjusted to reflect the students' true ability level. The end result will be much mofe useful to teachers as a diagnostic tool and enable them to adjust their teaching to address the students' weaknesses. On a larger scale this will show schools where they need to strengthen their curriculum & teaching methods. A win win for all. Yes we do know where kids 'are at' beforehand but if the govt wants to standardise testing across the country then this is a big improvement!'
Debra Phippen

'This sounds like an adaption of on demand testing. Many Victorian schools do this already. If done properly, these results are more useful to classroom teachers than NAPLAN when it comes to individualising education. I see this as a big step forward at the national level.'
Jeremy Leeson


'NAPLAN results were an important part of school transparency.

But [Mr Goodwin] said parents should not view them in isolation.

'If you take them in isolation it doesn’t give a full picture.'

'But I think NAPLAN should be seen by everybody because we need to be transparent about our assessment and reporting, especially to parents.

Mr Goodwin said children needed to learn how to cope with anxiety.

'Anxiety is something we shouldn’t be worrying about so much,” he said.

'If we are worried about it, we should be teaching our students and parents how to deal with it.'

Murtoa College Acting Principal Tony Goodwin
The Wimmera Mail Times
19 September

When it comes to the development of literacy, Annette says parents should talk with their child because oral language is very important when it comes to reading comprehension success. She says parents should be models of literacy for children by exposing them with various reading materials like train tickets, ... menu of restaurants, and many more.

612 ABC Brisbane, Brisbane, hosted by David Curnow
Interview with Annette Curnow, Literacy Consultant and mother
17 September

Christie says that they use the NAPLAN results as a diagnostic tool for strengthening the learning and teaching program.

MIX 94.5, Perth, hosted by Tim
Interview with Len Christie, Principal, Beechboro Primary School
16 September

NAPLAN tests and My School – NAPLAN Discussion Paper

[Australian Primary Principals Association President Norm Hart] stressed that primary principals support the NAPLAN tests and that results should be reported to students, parents and governments.

Brisbane Times, Strip results from My School website, say school principals
12 September

'[Altona Primary School's year 5\6 team co-ordinator, Andrew Gilpin] stressed that he wasn't being critical of NAPLAN, and that Altona Primary used the data from the tests to drive its teaching.'

The Age, Altona Primary puts NAPLAN in context
12 September

'We know NAPLAN does serve an important purpose.'

Acting principal, Nicole Fridey, of Altona Primary School
The Age, Altona Primary puts NAPLAN in context

11 September

'We regard NAPLAN as a useful tool for schools and school systems in tracking progress and identifying areas for improvement. We accept that national assessment is one of the tools to provide public information about and strengthen public confidence in schooling and improve accountability and public transparency. We believe it provides one component of the information parents need in making choices about schools for their children.'
My School – NAPLAN Discussion PaperAustralian Primary Principals Association (APPA)
8 September


'… By doing it from such an early year children aren’t trying to pick it up later in life and then the challenge of learning a language becomes a little bit more difficult…'

Adam Mathewson, Principal
Rainworth State School
(where the Italian language is taught)

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A primary school near Albury is trialling its students taking the NAPLAN test online rather than on paper.
Mark Maclean, Holy Spirit School Lavington, says the kids are 21st century learners and are wonderful on computers.

Adrian Piccoli, NSW Minister for Education, says online results are available in just a week, which allows the test to be the diagnostic tool it is supposed to be.

GEM Channel 9
29 August 

'…I was a marker of the NAPLAN writing task this year, and contrary to the criticism, rather than seeing students stumped by the question I read texts that were creative, fluent, persuasive and showed flair and adaptability…'

Vivienne Nicoll-Hatton, Balmain,
20 August

'… NAPLAN summary report provided a valuable snapshot of literacy and numeracy standards across the state, as well as identifying areas that need greater attention.'

John-Paul Langbroek,
Education Minister Qld, The Sunshine Coast
19 August

'…We should also remember that the primary value of NAPLAN continues to be the individual student report to parents, while schools also benefit from the valuable range of information provided to them about the performance of all students at the individual, class and year level…'

Martin Dixon,
Minister for Education Vic.,
18 August

'…NAPLAN remained a "snapshot" in time…'

Geoff Scott,
President of the NSW Primary Principals' Association

Lest we forget

'The Australian curriculum, which all schools in SA now follow, includes in-depth studies of World War I.
Students are more aware of the Western Front, Gallipoli and other arenas of the war than they have been for a long time.

We do our best as teachers to enable our students to connect with the great achievements and costs of this period and others, in our short but remarkable history.

On the 100th anniversary of the start of this horrific war, I'd like to encourage everyone to be lifelong learners – we do our bit in the schools with great assistance from The Advertiser, libraries and world-class films.'
Ray Hammat, Athelstone
Letters to the Editor, Adelaide Advertiser
6 August

The My School website

'... Another high-flying public school that has focused on technology, Seven Hills North, has been commended by The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority for making huge improvements in academic results. Principal Kate Pugh said there was “a lot of interest” in the school since its results had been public. Among the secrets of success, she said, was using technology in the best possible ways ... '
Bruce McDougall
Deskfree strategy turns classrooms into creative learning hubs that see student engagement soarBruce McDougall, The Daily Telegraph
2 August

' ... The My School website is a wonderful example of a major step forward in accountability of public services ...'
Holding ourselves to account starts right here, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, The Daily Telegraph
1 August

Health and physical education

'... On behalf of the Quality Learning Foundation (QLF), we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you for excellent presentation and discussion of the physical and health education, and work studies. We gained lots of concrete ideas. For our next step, we plan to discuss and come up with some recommendations for policy makers ...'

Ms Thantida Wongprasong, International Affairs Officer
Quality Learning Foundation (QLF)


Languages curricula

'This is an important moment for language education in Australia. The extent and depth of consultation has been impressive and the result represents an important milestone in normalising language education for all Australian children, struggling and well-off, rural and urban, boys and girls, and for those who have English at home just as much as for those who encounter English at school...'

Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor of Language and Literacy Education
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

Read more statements about the release of the languages curricula (PDF 43 kb)

Teacher says she teaches coding in Years 2–6: see ACARA’s Facebook page

'The NAPLAN data is only a snapshot of student performance over three days in May, but it provides a health check of our education system and highlights examples of exemplary schools.’Justine Ferrarri, The Australian

Read more statements regarding NAPLAN (WORD 49 kb).

'Parents were generally positive to the idea of the launch of the My School website as an additional tool to source information about their children’s school or prospective schools.'

'Parents and teachers had positive views of NAPLAN and benefits to both schools and students were recognised.'

Colmar Brunton Research
See more findings by the Colmar Brunton Research (PDF 133 kb)

‘I believe language for every child is very important so it's something that I would personally like to see happen but each school has to make their decision about what they value.’

Phil Irvine, Principal, Campsie Primary School

‘It is perfectly sensible and intelligent for Latin to be on the national curriculum. I did Latin at school. It’s a very, very good thing to do.’

Christopher Pyne, Minister for Education

‘I was disappointed to see The Courier-Mail taking such a negative attitude to the addition of Latin to the national curriculum (C-M, ¬June 20). Contrary to the impression given in the article, Latin is not being made compulsory. Spanish, Mandarin, Chinese and French will still be able to be taught. The only difference is that now schools can choose to add Latin and Greek to their suite of offerings. And that’s a good thing.’

Alastair Blanshard,
Paul Eliadis, Professor of Classics and Ancient History,
the University of Queensland

See more statements regarding the languages curriculum (WORD 51 kb)

'Thank you very much for what I thought was a very successful professional learning opportunity. I know I walked away with lots of new ideas and a better understanding of the Australian Curriculum and how we can implement it more efficiently at our school. I also found it very useful and interesting to work with other teachers across Australia on the same curriculum.'

Tiffany Ward, Year 5 teacher, ACT,
participant in the ACARA workshop on Work Samples for the Australian Curriculum: humanities and social sciences, 5–6 June

... There is such an unthinking current fashion against NAPLAN, often held by people who have never looked at the excellent tests, which have obviously been expertly devised to test perfectly appropriate skills and knowledge for the different ages...

'... congratulations to ACARA for providing such good testing and research ...'

Ms Elizabeth Jones, Sydney
Read the full letter (PDF 56 kb)

'(NAPLAN) 'is It’s a very useful diagnostic instrument, it’s something people shouldn’t really worry about and they should just treat the day as any other day ...'

Tim Hawks, Headmaster, Kings School

'I'm happy to take the test it because it pushes your brain to the limit.'

Year 7 student Dean Clarke

'... These national tests have the capability to pinpoint educational deficiencies and help identify where children are being left behind ...'

Belinda Seeney, parent
Read more statements about NAPLAN testing (PDF 73 kb)

Read statements about the My School website (PDF 93 kb)


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