16 July 2018

Why we need NAPLAN

This report from the Centre for Independent Studies discusses the value of NAPLAN.  The author argues that Australian taxpayers invest more than $50 billion per year in the school system. NAPLAN is an important measure of the return on this investment, and provides valuable information for schools, teachers, parents and students. The report notes four common criticisms that are made about NAPLAN: 1. No significant improvement since NAPLAN was first introduced in 2008; 2. The testing harms students; 3. Publication of results on MySchool website harms schools; and 4. The NAPLAN tests are too narrow. None of these criticisms are supported by rigorous evidence, and in contrast, NAPLAN has three major benefits, including, first, that it enables the identification of problems in the school system over time, and are a means for evaluating potential solutions, from the national level all the way down to individual students. Second, the literacy and numeracy results are made transparent at a national, state and territory, and school level. Parents are also able to see how their children are progressing against an objective national benchmark. Third, the test holds governments and schools accountable for literacy and numeracy results, which is important given the significant financial investment made in them by taxpayers and parents. The author argues because of these benefits, NAPLAN should be retained, but notes that there is capacity for improvement which should take account of common concerns from teachers and parents.