Parents talk on NAPLAN testing as it prepares to shift online

New England parents have weighed in on the debate over standardised testing in schools.

As NAPLAN testing moves into a digital format, parents have asked the government to clarify the purpose of the testing with concerns over equity, capability, funding and well being.

The NSW P&C Federation says the model of testing doesn’t address its purpose of “informing teaching and learning” and instead is “stressing” the children who sit the exams.

Children in years three, five, seven and nine sit the tests each year, while students in the Tamworth area took part in online trial exams in September.

P&C Federation president Susie Boyd said children in year five were reported to be suffering from anxiety, while there was added pressure for year nine students with their results going towards the minimum HSC standard.

There were also concerns about computer-based marking.

“From an education standpoint, how will testing of literacy and numeracy proficiency benefit our students when it only segregates them into two categories, pass or fail?” she said. 

“Adding to these concerns is a recommendation from the Federal Government to require all year one students to undergo literacy and numeracy checks, which would include implementing a synthetic phonics test.”

In September testing body ACARA reported students felt more engaged with the online model and 76 per cent of students enjoyed the test online, while 87 per cent of schools had confidence to transition online.

“Feedback so far has shown that schools and students have found the readiness test a useful and engaging experience,” Dr Jenny Donovan, Education Department executive director said.

New England P&C chair Rachael Sowden said while the concept of testing for improvement was “not bad” there were flow on effects that needed addressing.

“It is all the other things that are attached to it, low level disability funding is based on the bottom ten per cent of NAPLAN,” she said. “Is that the right way to decide which schools get how much funding?”

She was concerned students with a disability in schools with strong NAPLAN scores could miss out on funding.

“They could be missing out on support because they don’t have bad data. How does that work? It doesn’t seem fair.”