It seems that the campaign to inform parents of their right to withdraw their child from the NAPLAN tests is having some effect.
The West Australian reported this week that withdrawal rates increased in WA in 2013. Parents of more than 1400 WA students signed withdrawal forms to stop their children from sitting national reading, writing and maths tests.
The newspaper reported statistics released by the WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority that show a 23 per cent increase in the proportion of children pulled out of the tests at their parents’ request, with 1420 of 121,182 eligible students withdrawn last year compared with 1126 of 118,481 students in 2012.
A few WA schools had withdrawal rates for some classes of between 20 and 100 per cent, compared with national withdrawal rates of between 1.3 per cent for Year 7 and 2.3 per cent for Year 3s. The schools with high withdrawal rates were mostly alternative private schools.
The NAPLAN tests take place next week. Participation is not mandatory. However, many parents, and even school principals and teachers, believe that sitting the tests is compulsory.
Parents are being misled in this belief by the information brochure for parents on NAPLAN produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). It gives the impression that the tests are mandatory. It states that “all students” in Years 3, 5, 7 & 9 “are expected to participate” in the tests. It fails to state that parents can withdraw their child from NAPLAN.
This brochure is widely used by schools to inform parents about NAPLAN. Many schools use it in newsletters for families. It means that many parents, teachers and even principals remain unaware that parents have the right to withdraw their children from NAPLAN.
Some Education Departments also continue not to inform parents that they can withdraw their child. For example, there is no information about NAPLAN on the Parent and Community page of the ACT Directorate of Education and Training website. The National Assessment Program page of the website does not advise parents that they can withdraw their child from the tests. A link is provided to the 2012 ACARA parent information brochure which does not include advice that parents can withdraw their child.
Similarly, the Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian, Victorian and Western Australian Department of Education websites fail to inform parents that they can withdraw their child from NAPLAN.
SOS has had several queries from parents in different states about whether NAPLAN is compulsory. It seems that many parents are being misled by the conspiracy of silence by education authorities about the right to withdraw from NAPLAN.