NAPLAN tests must be fit-for-purpose

Jennifer Buckingham

24 September 2019

NAPLAN has been in the political cross-hairs since it was introduced in 2008. It becomes big news at least four times year – when the tests are held in May, when the preliminary national results are released in September, when the full national report is published in the following March, and when the My School website is updated with the individual school results in April.

Over the past year or so, in addition to these flashpoints there has been widespread discussion about various reviews and inquiries into the NAPLAN assessments and the ways in which the results are reported.

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Low literacy rates weigh heavily on the disadvantaged

Published in The Australian Financial Review, 16 September 2019

By Jennifer Buckingham

Adult, skilled readers often underestimate the complexity of learning to read. A few children seem to acquire reading spontaneously and with apparent ease, but most need to be taught how to do it. Without proficient reading skills, children struggle to spell and write. Literacy also affects numeracy, because if children cannot read the question they will not be able to formulate an answer. Ability to read underpins success across the entire school curriculum.

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NAPLAN 2019: Reasons to be cheerful

By Jennifer Buckingham


There were some dramatic headlines when the preliminary results from the 2019 NAPLAN tests were released earlier this week.

“NAPLAN: $20bn flop, schools fail to lift most students’ academic results” – The Australian
“Writing wrongs: Our kids worse off 10 years after start of controversial school tests” – The Daily Telegraph
“NAPLAN results show we are failing our children” – The Courier Mail
“NAPLAN changes the way we raise our children, and not for the better” – The Sydney Morning Herald.

How accurate are these headlines?

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Misinformation about the Year 1 Phonics Check

Any education policy proposal should be scrutinised, questioned and discussed in detail. Such debate should be conducted on the basis of accurate information. In the case of the Year 1 Phonics Check, however, a great deal of misinformation is being promulgated which is creating confusion rather than clarity.

A recent example is a blog post in EduResearch Matters by Dr Paul Gardner, who has previously written articles about the Year 1 Phonics Check and its impact in English schools, to which I provided substantive corrections.

Dr Gardner’s blog published last week makes a number of claims that are incorrect. The entire blog is quoted in sections here and I respond briefly in turn.

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