Every year all Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students nationally write the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) tests.
The government agency responsible for administering this program, ACARA, states that: “NAPLAN tests the sorts of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life, such as reading, writing, spelling, grammar and numeracy.”
NAPLAN tests do not measure the worth of a child, or a teacher, or a school. Luckily they are not pass or fail tests, but just give us a snapshot view of a child and a school’s performance on a certain day – as part of their ongoing learning process. Our schools do not teach to the test, but we do regard NAPLAN as a useful external benchmark to help us identify strengths and gaps in individual student learning, as well as tracking whole school performance.
Individual schools will report their NAPLAN data to their school communities, but here is a brief summary of some of the results at a system level. Across all six SCEA schools, our performance is measured on 100 indicators consisting of a reading, writing, spelling, grammar & punctuation and numeracy test for each Year 3, 5, 7 and year 9 group. (Two schools only have Year 3 and 5.)
We are delighted that 96.93% of the results across all 100 categories across SCEA are at or above the national minimum standard for their year group. However, as a group of schools we are not just interested in meeting minimum standards, we want to do BETTER. Therefore, we also track our performance against other benchmarks. This year 68 out of the 100 categories are above the national average and we have recorded improvements from last year in 59 categories.
As part of our continuous drive to improve, school leaders from all SCEA schools met recently to discuss the NAPLAN results for 2016 and to identify opportunities and strategies for growth. We aim to be data-informed, not data driven. As W. Edwards Deming said: “Without data you are just another person with an opinion.”
Mathilda Joubert, Principal of the SCEA Institute of Teaching and Learning