Minister: NAPLAN will stay, but marks must improve
QUEENSLAND'S schooling chief has backed the NAPLAN test, despite results showing a wide gap in results when teachers cannot prepare students, as he revealed the state's ranking had jumped from seventh to fourth since it began.
Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said the state now ranked fourth in Australia in the number of students achieving benchmarks in years three and five, except for writing.
He said the NAPLAN test enabled the government to direct resourcing to the right places.
"Coming second last is not how Queenslanders would ever see themselves," he said of the 2008 result on ABC Brisbane radio.
"We had to work hard to target funding to where we knew it would make the most difference.
"We're focusing on teacher quality, school autonomy and, in the early years of school, with special programs to help students with literacy and numeracy."
Mr Langbroek said he was thrilled the state was edging closer to reaching its goal "of being one of the top performing states by 2020".
He told ABC that to achieve that goal, he must be realistic about Queensland's challenges - such as remoteness, English as a second language, indigenous students - in its 1700 schools.
Mr Langbroek noted the ACT had just 120 schools all within 45 minutes of Canberra which meant its results were not comparable.
The NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy And Numeracy) tests all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 every May for reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy.
Writing was the only one of the five categories to record declining student results in 2014.
This year teachers were not given any guide on the writing category, which could be persuasive or narrative style.
Mr Langbroek said this came after controversy about teachers coaching students to do well on the test which is the national education measuring tool.
He said he expected this lack of preparation might be the reason for the poor result in writing Australia-wide but denied the result showed the test was "a joke".
"That's a simplistic assessment," he told ABC.
Mr Langbroek said the summary report provided a valuable snapshot of literacy and numeracy standards across the state, as well as identifying areas that needed greater attention.
He described NAPLAN as one piece of the education puzzle.
"It's over reacting to say let's not do it at all," he said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin also backed the test which he described as just one measure in judging school and student performance.
"NAPLAN is just one thing that gives a guage on perforamcen but there are many other things that contribute to success of failutre of a student," he said.
Year 3 and 5 students are the stand out performers again this year, recording Queensland's highest NAPLAN performance to date in many areas.
- More than 92% of Year 3 and 5 students achieved at or above the national standard across reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy.
- Year 3 students posted their highest average results ever in reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy but they also posted their lowest result in writing. A similar pattern is also evident for Year 5 students.
- More Queensland Year 3 and 5 students than ever before are achieving the upper bands of performance in NAPLAN in reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy.
- Year 7 and 9 students also scored well with more than 94% of students achieving the national standard or better in numeracy.
- On average, Year 9 students posted their best result on record in numeracy, while Year 7 students posted their best results on record in reading and grammar and punctuation.
- Nine out of 10 Queensland students are achieving at or above the national standard in four out of five areas of testing.
- Writing is the one NAPLAN area that continues to be a challenge for Queensland students across all year levels. The drop in writing scores was a nation-wide trend.
- Looking at the 2014 mean scores, writing results in Australia are the worst on record for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
The national summary report of 2014 NAPLAN results will be available online at www.naplan.edu.au.
NAPLAN results for each school will be published today on the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority website.