A new report by public policy think-tank, the Grattan Institute, has revealed that assessment practices in Australia fall far short of what is needed to enable teachers to accurately target teaching.
The data showed that at any given year level there was a five to six year difference between the most advanced and the least advanced 10% of students. According to the report’s authors, the best way to address this issue was through a greater focus on targeted teaching.
A study of 3,000 students in Victoria and Tasmania showed that in Year 8 maths there may be as much as eight year levels difference between the top and bottom students – an issue the Institute says can be resolved through targeted teaching.
"This is not just about more data. Schools are awash with data. But too often the data schools have is not the information teachers need, and it does not improve teaching. This must change," the report read.
One of the report’s authors, the Institute's school education program director, Dr Peter Goss said NAPLAN must be accompanied by targeted teaching rather than be relied on as the main indicator of student progress.
"NAPLAN has raised the level of transparency but the best use of it is the progress or student gain. The answer is to keep NAPLAN and to balance that with more fine-grained information that helps teachers," Goss told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The report says it would cost about $300m a year to roll out the best programs to the schools that need it most.
"The cost and the changes for schools and school systems are significant, but the rewards are worth it," the report says.