WIMMERA and Grampians schools have welcomed potential changes to NAPLAN following an interim report into the test.
The Victorian, NSW, Queensland and ACT governments released the report, which set out changes to overcome major issues such as changing the timing of the test to provide better data and limiting the availability of test data to discourage its use as a comparative tool for schools.
Stawell Secondary College principal Carlos Lopez said the changes up for discussion were good, but they wouldn't change the way the school used NAPLAN results.
"Moving testing from years seven and nine to years eight and 10 would be better for us in terms of data because it would better indicate how students were tracking," he said. "Testing students in year seven mostly shows how their learning was in year six."
Mr Lopez said the school saw NAPLAN as a way to see how the school was going generally, rather than to track individual student performance.
Focusing on NAPLAN creates an idea that teachers actually aren't doing their job properly, which is an unfair kick in the guts.Stawell Secondary College principal Carlos Lopez
"The test is powerful when it is used to assess a cohort of students rather than trying to infer information about individuals," he said.
Mr Lopez said the practice of using NAPLAN results to compare schools raised many issues unless it was done using schools with a similar socio-economic context.
He said NAPLAN was only one part of the picture because it tested individual students on one particular day, at one particular time and that the data needed to be considered with other assessments.
"Australian teachers do a really good job of educating students," he said. "Focusing on NAPLAN creates an idea that teachers actually aren't doing their job properly, which is an unfair kick in the guts."
Horsham's Holy Trinity Lutheran College principal Daniel Weller said while the school saw the value in NAPLAN, it was a "snapshot" of student learning.
He said the school would also use the results the same way if the years of testing were amended but said secondary-only schools would benefit most from that change.
"As a P-12 school we use the data differently," he said.
Mr Weller said using the NAPLAN results to compare schools was a misuse of the data.
"It is diagnostic rather than comparative," he said. "It would be taking pressure off teachers and students by not having the comparison."
Murtoa College principal Tony Goodwin said NAPLAN had been a useful tool to identify where extra support was required.
"NAPLAN, used in conjunction with assessment and reporting, can be very helpful in that the details can be used to help us to identify student needs," he said.
The NAPLAN interim report was developed by the expert panel leading the review - Emeritus Professor Barry McGaw, Emeritus Professor Bill Louden, and Professor Claire Wyatt Smith. The panel will present their final report by mid-2020.
State Education Minister James Merlino said "significant changes" needed to be made to improve NAPLAN.
"The status quo is not an option for NAPLAN and we are prepared to make whatever changes are needed," he said.
"We will always need some form of standardised test - but what I have heard very clearly when I visit schools is that NAPLAN has lost the support of much of the teaching workforce and that simply isn't good enough."
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