The preliminary NAPLAN results for 2018 have been released amid concerns about the validity of the online testing process.
Compared with the base year, the performance of Australian students in Years 5 and 9 numeracy, Years 3 and 5 reading, Years 3 and 5 spelling, and Years 3 and 7 grammar was significantly above the NAPLAN.
However, Australian students achieved their lowest writing results since the inception of NAPLAN testing in 2008.
In NSW, Victoria and Queensland, 96% of Year 3 students are meeting the minimum national benchmark in reading and numeracy. Results were slightly lower in Queensland, and significantly lower in the Northern Territory.
The ACT is the highest performing state across all measures.
This year, the first year of transition, around 20% of students undertook NAPLAN online. In 2019, a larger percentage of students will undertake NAPLAN online, with the remainder sitting the paper assessment.
“Overall, the NAPLAN results for 2018 show that since 2008 there have been statistically significant gains in a number of domains and year levels, particularly at the primary level,” ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, said.
Despite growing concerns about online testing, Randall said the transition was smooth.
“Feedback from schools at the time of testing stated that students found the online assessment engaging,” he said.
“The NAPLAN Online platform performed well and 99.8 per cent of students were able to complete the assessment online.”
Randall said measurement experts have confirmed that the results for online and paper NAPLAN have assessed the same content and can be placed on the same NAPLAN assessment scale.
However, the Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian branch said a new investigation has found that NAPLAN data from this year’s online tests is “unusable”.
The independent review, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College – titled: ‘Problems in the Design and Administration of the 2018 NAPLAN’ – found “incomparable” data in this year’s NAPLAN online trial.
Justin Mullaly, deputy president of the AEU Victorian branch, said this means the results are useless and should be discarded.
“We back Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino’s call for a full review of NAPLAN as it is clear that NAPLAN is doing damage to student learning and is well and truly past its use by date,” Mullaly said.
“A very disturbing aspect to this debacle is that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) failed to identify and act on critical errors.”
Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said today’s results show that reforms are needed to better support students
“Future school reforms must focus on driving individual student achievement and equipping teachers with the right tools in the classroom,” Birmingham said.
Birmingham said David Gonski’s recent report, titled: ‘Through Growth To Achievement’, provides “a clear plan on how to best support students across Australia to be their best and to reach maximum levels of achievement.”
“Work continues with the states and territories and non-government school systems to determine how the reforms set out in the Review should be rolled-out,” he said.
A new national school reform agreement between the Commonwealth and the states and territories is expected to be considered by COAG in the coming months.