The results of a survey published last month show that a large majority of teachers think that the NAPLAN tests detract from learning in the classroom and have little education benefit for students.
Teachers say that NAPLAN has lead to a narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, and a negative classroom environment that lowers student engagement and does not cater for the needs of individual students. Hours of test preparation mean that it is harder to cater for students with the greatest need.
The tests are also increasing stress and anxiety amongst students. Many students are experiencing anxiety attacks, are not sleeping and are becoming physically ill before the tests.
Key findings from the survey are:
• Seventy-three per cent of teachers say that NAPLAN does not improve student learning;
• Seventy-seven per cent of teachers say that preparation for the NAPLAN tests are taking time away from other curriculum areas;
• Eighty per cent of teachers say that NAPLAN does not promote a socially supportive and positive class environment;
• Seventy per cent of teachers consider that NAPLAN promotes a classroom environment where students requiring the most support are the least likely to participate;
• Sixty-seven per cent of teachers think that NAPLAN lowers student engagement in class;
• Fifty-three per cent of teachers say that the NAPLAN tests are not an accurate or fair representation of learning in the classroom;
• Fifty per cent of teachers said that they felt forced to give dull, repetitive lessons because of NAPLAN;
• Forty-one per cent of teachers say that NAPLAN has led to increased pressure from parents on teachers to increase student performance;
• Forty-four per cent of teachers say that NAPLAN has led to negative relationships with principals;
Only about one-third of teachers saw any positive benefits from NAPLAN.
The findings of the survey are consistent with international research on the effects of high-stakes testing in schools.
The survey was of almost 1000 teachers in government and private schools in South Australia and Western Australia. It is part of a three-year study of being conducted at Murdoch University by researcher Greg Thompson that looks at the effects of NAPLAN on school communities.