Students sat their NAPLAN exams in May 2018 and results will be released from mid-August to mid-September depending on which state they live in. The hold up in the release of results coming about due to difficulties in analysing results when two different testing procedures were used. This was the first year where one fifth of students completed an online test. The online test, unlike the paper test was adaptive. This means that questions become more difficult when a student gets answers correct or easier if answers are incorrect.
Due to the two testing procedures, assessment experts within Australia and overseas have questioned whether the results are comparable. Not only was the test given in different formats but also the design of the tests was different. It’s really like comparing apples with oranges. This is evident if we look at the Year 9 writing results. Students who sat the test online generally preformed better than those sitting the pen and paper test. Does this clear discrepancy highlight the possibility of other issues with this data?
So what does this mean for the 2018 results? From a parent’s point of view the number of students sitting the test allows for a large enough sample size to give you an idea of where your child stands. That is, whether they are behind or performing at the expected level.
In terms of the My School website and government future planning the results are probably not particularly valid. To say that students in all areas improved from the 2008 base test may not be adequate when overall the Australian Education System has fallen to 39 out of 41 comparable countries in the UN agency survey based on PISA results. Maybe its time not only to evaluate how NAPLAN testing is conducted but our education system as a whole.