‘Cancelling’ NAPLAN The Perfect Cover For Sliding Student Results

Written by:
17 March 2024
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In this article, Bella d’Arbrera contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research into the national curriculum, conducted as part of the IPA’s Foundations of Western Civilisation Program.

The Foundations of Western Civilisation Program was established in 2011 to defend and extend Australians’ understanding of the influential, historical role of the West in establishing many of the liberties enjoyed by members of our society.

Cresta Richardson, head of the Queensland Teacher’s Union, has declared that the 1.3 million children preparing to sit the NAPLAN test should be spared the test because it’s too “stressful” for them.

It is not surprising that she is calling for a boycott of testing, because NAPLAN testing exposes a complete failure of our education sector to teach students how to read and write.

Year after year, NAPLAN results are proof that something is going very wrong in our schools.

Last year, we learnt that a third of all Australian students are failing to meet proficiency standards in literacy and numeracy.

The annual NAPLAN assessment results have repeatedly exposed unsatisfactory and declining standards, which are either deliberately obscured or willfully ignored by governments.

The results raise numerous uncomfortable questions for the union’s leadership, which is why they do not want NAPLAN to continue. They do not want to be held to account.

Even the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)—the body that implements NAPLAN assessments, is in on the game.

Early last year, it made changes that render the test near-useless as a guide for parents and policymakers to assess where our students stand, changing measurements, levels, and scales of assessment.

While previous results were reported on a scale of ten levels of proficiency, now results are reported on a scale of just four: “exceeding,” “strong,” “developing,” and “needs additional support.”

This means that NAPLAN results can no longer be easily measured against previous years’ results or be analysed on a year-on-year basis to determine trends. The fix is in.

Teachers or Activists?

Ms. Richardson is not only calling for a boycott of the test, but she also thinks that the test is “outdated” and should be abolished altogether because it will then free up teachers to spend more time in the classrooms on core curriculum areas.

What she fails to mention, however, is that even if teachers did have the time to teach core curriculum areas, many still would not know how to because their teacher training comes up woefully short.

As Institute of Public Affairs research has shown, teaching as a discipline at Australian universities have a heavy focus on Critical Social Justice (wokeness).

Students are being very well instructed in how to be politically conscious agents of change.

Take, for example, James Cook University, in the Bachelor of Education students will study a course in, “Service Learning for Sustainable Futures,” where trainee teachers are required to produce projects that “strengthen communities with a focus on activities that promote social and environmental responsibility.”

A fourth-year subject, “Leading Wellbeing and Sustainability in Learning Communities” seeks to “position pre-service teachers as classroom leaders working within and across ecological spheres of practice; metacognitive of the impact of their own resilience and well-being on the social sustainability of their classrooms and communities.”

It is this training that sets our teachers—and our students—up for failure.

Further at present, the average completion rate for students with a teaching degree at university is just 50 percent, and 20 percent leave the profession in their first three years as a teacher.

To his credit, federal Education Minister Jason Clare disagrees with Ms. Richardson. He thinks that NAPLAN is important and that it should stay. Since becoming minister in June 2022, Mr. Clare has oft repeated the mantra that we need to get “back to basics.”

The sentiment is admirable, but unfortunately, this will remain a sentiment for as long as our education sector is controlled by activists who believe that the “basics” get in the way of the real purpose of education.

For the activists, education is how children are brought to a political consciousness, so that in adulthood they will be able to overturn whatever power structure is “oppressing” them at the time.

This view is of course at complete odds with most parents who believe that at the very least, schooling should be about teaching children how to read, write, add up and subtract.

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