THE federal government should reform the NAPLAN test in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Bendigo academic says.
It came after an independent review - commissioned by Victoria, NSW, Queensland, and the ACT - recommended a complete overhaul of the national literacy and numeracy test.
The report recommended NAPLAN be replaced from 2022 with a new test - the Australian National Standardised Assessments or ANSA.
ANSA would be delivered before May each year and the testing would have a greater focus on science, technology, and creative thinking.
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Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan rejected the review, saying the COVID-19 pandemic showed the country needed the NAPLAN test.
"NAPLAN is the best tool we have to understand what impact COVID-19 has had on our children's education and to inform what actions we need to take to fix it," Mr Tehan said in a written statement.
But La Trobe University Bendigo Associate Professor Noleine Fitzallen said the coronavirus pandemic was the perfect time for change.
"It's certainly the time to review NAPLAN and bring it in line with today's context," Dr Fitzallen said.
"COVID-19 gives us a good chance to stop, get a baseline, and move forward now that COVID-19 has interfered with schooling.
"Any testing done from now with NAPLAN cannot be directly related to the testing done before the pandemic."
The independent review recommended the current testing of year nine students should be moved to year 10 to provide a more accurate indicator of a student's learning achievements before they start senior secondary.
The review also recommended the test be brought forward from May to as early as possible in the year, with students and teachers receiving the results within a week of the test.
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Dr Fitzallen said those changes would only be beneficial if individualised NAPLAN results were released to schools early in the year.
"There is no point in testing students if the data is not available to use for the schools," Dr Fitzallen said. "If results come in late, the schools can't use them to inform planning for the year.
"Getting results back that talk about the nation collectively is not necessarily useful, but if they can look at their own students and classes, then it can be very useful."
The independent review also said the test should be expanded from just literacy and numeracy to critical thinking in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
"Incorporation of other learning areas including STEM will allow us to see how students perform in literacy and numeracy in multiple contexts," Dr Fitzallen said. "They are really cross-curriculum concepts.
"It's the same with critical and creative thinking. They are not bound by learning areas. They are capabilities that are developed across the whole curriculum.
"So the proposed changes are likely to give a more holistic picture of the student."
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