The Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, has broken the bi-partisanship on national testing. He has criticised NAPLAN as a high stakes test that is misleading and narrowing the curriculum.
In a letter to the Prime Minister on the Gonski funding proposal, the Premier criticised the national testing regime:
“The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy [NAPLAN] was intended to provide important information on student performance and identify areas where improvement was needed. Instead, it has become a high-stakes test that is narrowing the curriculum and giving misleading results on student performance.
Further, NAPLAN does not measure a well-rounded student, who excels in music, drama and sport for example….”
The Premier also criticised the new National Plan for School Improvement which is conditional on the Federal Government’s school funding plan and which includes the extension of national testing to science. The letter says that the Plan offers “no clear educational benefits”.
The Premier has clearly broken with his federal and state colleagues on national testing. For example, the Federal Opposition supports extending the NAPLAN tests to all year levels from 3 to 10. The Opposition spokesman on education, Christopher Pyne, has also given his support to extending NAPLAN to include science testing.
The Premier’s comments also appear to contradict policies of his government. The Queensland Government has announced plans to extend school autonomy and introduce performance pay for teachers. Yet, the National Plan for School Improvement criticised by the Premier also includes provision for greater school autonomy and performance pay based in part on NAPLAN results. Perhaps he should re-consider his own policies as well.