Victorian Government’s plan to link NAPLAN to jobs sells students short

The Australian Education Union in Victoria says the Victorian Government’s plan to link Year 9 NAPLAN results to job applications will have a raft of untold negative consequences for students and should be abandoned immediately.

“The Minister says he wants to address student disengagement with NAPLAN testing. It is not surprising at all that they are disengaged, NAPLAN testing skims the surface of the breadth of skills and knowledge of what students learn in the classroom,” said Meredith Peace president of the Australian Education Union Victorian Branch.

“NAPLAN should not be considered by students as a determinant of their future.

“Linking standardised tests results with career opportunities does not lead to better student engagement or better pathway outcomes. This approach seems to put political and bureaucratic objectives ahead of what students really need.

“The Minister is wrongly locating the problem with students. Instead, he needs to address problems with discredited standardised testing. Standardised tests do not help to engage students in meaningful learning, instead they often create unnecessary stress and anxiety for students, and this will only increase if they think their future job options rely on a test they do in Year 9.

“If this plan goes ahead one of the practical consequences will be that those Year 9 students who already face educational disadvantage because of family or community backgrounds will have less access to learning opportunities and jobs.

“NAPLAN tests provide an unreliable view of student performance based on invalid data and outdated teaching and assessment approaches. Schools are told not to ‘teach the test’ and students are told not to study for the test, however our members tell us many students do study and some parents get NAPLAN tutors for their children. If Year 9 student results are linked to their job opportunities, you can bet students will be distracted from the skills and knowledge they need for their future and instead waste their time and enthusiasm preparing to sit the standardised test.

“Teachers must be at the centre of reviewing and developing curriculum and assessment approaches, and they must be at the centre of providing students and parents with real insights into academic achievement across all curriculum areas.

“We don’t need a discredited point-in-time test further driving curriculum and educational policy. We need the government to get on with a comprehensive review of NAPLAN, not piecemeal announcements made on the fly,” said Ms Peace.

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