Calls to modify NAPLAN over pressure concerns

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More than a million Australian students are undertaking three days of NAPLAN tests but some groups are concerned the tests have become less about tracking students' progress and more about ranking schools and private-school selection.

For Lily Nguyen's family, education is important.
 
She keeps an eye on her 8 year old daughter Louise, ensuring she completes her homework.
 
But leading a busy life means Lily isn't always around when Louise needs some help and to improve Louise's chances of entering a selective school, Lily has invested in extra tuition.
 
Louise has had tutoring lessons for two years and with her first NAPLAN test coming up, she's been focusing on literacy and numeracy.

"Because my English is not good enough, so it's better for me to send them to someone who can help them more."
 
"I think it might help, her a lot," she said.  "We don't know what's in the test, so, just do a lot of practice at home is better for them."
 
Louise's tutor, Thuy Pham says increasingly, pupils are seeking help to prepare for NAPLAN.
 
"We just have so many parents who are interested in that sort of training, we actually build in NAPLAN style questions into our course book," he said.

"Regardless of whether you're coming specifically for NAPLAN training or not, we find that it's a very worthwhile experience, to do NAPLAN style questions."
 
"We've had children, who have started class with us and barely know the alphabet, they barely know how to add, but you can teach them how to do it."
 
"If you just give students the test, and you just go through the test, without teaching them any of the content before that, then it's all going to be a waste of time."
 
Thuy believes the tests give parents a reliable insight into how their child is performing, and how their school is tracking.
 
Professor Barry McGaw, Chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) agrees. He says there's no point in teaching to the test.
 
"It gives parents a report on how their students are doing in a much bigger framework than an individual school can provide and that's the value."
 
"They have to be familiar with the test of course and that's particularly true with year 3 students, for whom it's the first time."
 
"But the best preparation for the test is a good rich curriculum, and we're trying to make the tests less predictable."
 
Professor McGaw says the MySchools website - run independently of the Authority - only measures like schools, and enables them to learn from one another.
 
But the Australian Education Union believes schools feel the pressure of league tables and propose modifying NAPLAN to avoid it.
 
"Putting the NAPLAN test much earlier in the year is a way in which we can address that problem of excessive test preparation and the narrowing of the curriculum which occurs as a result of that", says Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos
 
The union is also concerned NAPLAN results are being used as a private school entry test.
 
"The NAPLAN test at best a one point in time snapshot that could provide teachers and parents with diagnostic information about the learning needs of their children."

Source World News Australia

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