NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, has welcomed the state’s NAPLAN results but added the state still remains 10-15 years behind the world’s top performing students in literacy and numeracy.
Piccoli said many of the state’s schools had shown improvement, with NSW having the highest NAPLAN participation rate nationally.
"We are seeing some pleasing improvements at a school level and I applaud our fantastic teachers for continuing to work at such a high standard," Piccoli said in a statement.
"NAPLAN provides important diagnostic data to help identify challenges for individual students and give valuable insights at a classroom, school and system level."
However, Piccoli said NSW still lags behind the world’s best when it comes to literacy and numeracy. He attributed this to schools focusing too much on reducing class sizes rather than improving students’ performance.
"NSW is not where it should be because not much happened for about a decade," Piccoli told The Sydney Morning Herald.
"There was lots of investment in class sizes but if the same teacher is just teaching in a smaller class, then there are not going to be significant improvements and it means we are now about 10 to 15 years behind other countries."
Dr Jae Major, a senior lecturer at Charles Sturt University’s School of Teacher Education told The Educator that to improve students’ literacy and numeracy performance for future tests, NAPLAN itself needs to change.
“The way to make NAPLAN more useful and to enhance its potential for having a positive effect on outcomes is to change it from being a high stakes test that is administered on a single day,” Major told The Educator.
“It must be a suite of standardised tests that are nationally normed, and that teachers can use early in the year, along with other assessment tools, to build a rich understanding of the progress and areas of need amongst their students.”