States must stare down Turnbull's phonics test

The Australian Education Union warns state governments not to sign up to the Turnbull government’s discredited phonics test at today’s Education Ministers meeting.

State governments must stand strong in opposition to this phonics test given the widespread concern that teaching professionals have about the use of synthetic phonics for assessment.

“State governments must stare down this move by Minister Birmingham. The proposed testing regime undermines the professional judgement of teachers in our public schools,” said Correna Haythorpe federal president of the AEU.

“Birmingham’s phonics obsession is an attempt to distract from the fact that the Turnbull Government is cutting $3 billion in education funding across the next two years alone.

“Synthetic phonics connects sounds to letters using made up words devoid of any meaning. Teachers report this approach is confusing for students. Minister Birmingham is pushing for a system where classroom time is spent learning nonsense words, instead of real words.

“No test is more accurate than teacher judgement. Teaching professionals have a deep understanding of the strategies and approaches that work when teaching children to read. There is no simplistic way to teach reading, no silver bullet pedagogy approach.

“We do not need to adopt testing programs that are based on a discredited UK approach and that has drawn criticism from teachers, principals, academics and literacy specialists

“It is much more important that teachers are backed with the resources that they need to help those students who have learning needs. When teachers and schools are properly resourced they deliver strong literacy outcomes.

“The Minister would do better to listen to the profession than push his politically motivated agendas onto schools.

“State Governments must also resist the Minister’s push to move NAPLAN testing online. We urge the Ministers to abandon the rollout of NAPLAN online and to immediately consult with the profession about identified issues.

“Students from low socio-economic backgrounds will be disadvantaged. Results will not show us learning outcomes, they will show us whether a child has had access to technology and how proficient they are at using that technology.

“We will not be fooled by Minister Birmingham's reform agenda nor will it distract us from the critical importance of fully funding our schools" Ms Haythorpe.