Barry McGaw, chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), says that claims that NAPLAN is creating test-driven schooling are “nonsense” (The Age, 7 May 2012). Yet, the national education ministers’ council is so concerned about excessive test preparation and the narrowing of the curriculum that it recently commissioned ACARA to investigate and report on it.
It seems that Mr. McGaw has already made up his mind. He ignores extensive evidence which has accumulated since My School was established. NAPLAN has become the equivalent of Year 12 exams in many schools.
Mr. McGaw claims that students take NAPLAN tests only for a few hours every second year. He is badly misinformed. The amount of time being devoted to practising for NAPLAN is staggering. Some schools spend up to two days a week practising for the tests. Some started practising in Term 4 last year. Some even do “NAPLAN style” tests in Years 1 & 2 to prepare students for the Year 3 tests.
All this “teaching to the test” is at the expense of other subjects such as science, social studies, physical education, arts and music. Some schools leave doing science, social studies and drama, etc. until after May.
We can only hope that ACARA will do a proper investigation of the impact of NAPLAN and My School in the classroom and not produce a ‘whitewash’ report.