Curriculum changes caused by NAPLAN testing

Changes to the role of NAPLAN

There has been a lot of concern from parents in Western Australia who believe that students now have to “pass” NAPLAN to gain entry to ATAR subjects in Year 11 and 12. According to the Schools Curriculum Standards Authority, this is not the case. If students don’t achieve Band 8 or above in NAPLAN, they can commence Year 11 subjects as they choose. However, if a student doesn’t achieve Band 8 NAPLAN, they have to sit the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA).

OLNA

They get a total of 6 opportunities across Years 10 to 12 to pass the OLNA . They need to pass OLNA at one of these opportunities to achieve WACE requirements for graduation at the end of Year 12. So NAPLAN does play a part in how students progress into Year 11 and 12, but they get six tries at the OLNA.

NAPLAN results

NAPLAN  assessment results are reported on scales which demonstrate how students have performed compared to established standards. Assessment scales are also supposed to allow achievement to be mapped as students progress through schooling. For some students the results can be quite devastating and affect their confidence if they are in the same band in Year 5 as they were in Year 3. This is not uncommon. There is already a lot of anxiety amongst students prior to NAPLAN, and this will only increase as teachers “telegraph” the boost in importance of NAPLAN.

NAPLAN test results provide information on how students are performing in the areas of literacy and numeracy and are supposed to lead to improvements in teaching and learning. The problem is demonstrated in Senior school, where the mainstream Year 11 and 12 curriculum is built for the 30% of students who go on to complete University degrees.

The WACE (previously TEE) Exams have been given an importance they don’t deserve. They are not “Do or Die” in terms of gaining University entrance as many students think. But teachers have to teach to the exams, while students miss out on many other curricula that could thrive without them. A lot of secondary teachers believe that Universities should run their own exams so that a more creative, diverse curriculum could be offered to students in their senior years.

The impact of NAPLAN on the curriculum

The new importance of NAPLAN is going to see teachers teaching to the tests, as in Yr 11 and 12, as schools are judged by the performance against national minimum standards and student performance in other states. What areas of the curriculum will be cut, to allow extra focus on schools scoring well in comparison to everybody else? Will creativity be downplayed because there is no room for it in the curriculum, as happens in senior school.

The data from NAPLAN test results does give schools and systems the ability to measure their students’ achievements. Schools in low socio-economic areas may be disadvantaged. Reports on individual student performance are provided to all students and parents/carers by the states and territories. NAPLAN results are also reported nationally through summary results released in August and a full national report released in December.

Although we may not like the increased importance of NAPLAN, we have to face the fact that our students will have to complete it. The tests are not going away.  Brave Heart Tutoring assists students to perform better in NAPLAN testing. If they achieve Band 8 by the end of Year 9, they don’t have to sit OLNA at all.

To watch the correct video, click on NAPLAN A teacher’s perspective in the black band at the top of the video window.