In a revealing article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, a private school teacher says he cheats on the NAPLAN tests. He cheats by doing practice preparation for the tests to be held in two weeks.
The teacher confirms what everyone except the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) knows – much of first and early second term is taken up with practice for NAPLAN at the expense of deep analysis within subjects and less time spent on subjects not tested.
The English teacher said that he is preparing his Year 9 students for NAPLAN by drilling them on their punctuation, homophones, paragraphing and syntax. He said he began NAPLAN practice in week one of first term. The result is that he spends less classroom time on analysing literature such as Shakespeare.
…we have had to suspend the teaching of Romeo and Juliet, because NAPLAN is more important. You see my students won’t be tested against their appreciation of English literature and Shakespeare.
Principals and teachers are under pressure to get good test results, so intense practice is the order of the day. The teacher says that NAPLAN is all about individual schools having better results than their neighbours.
NAPLAN practice is widespread. There have been numerous reports in the last few years about how much time is spent on preparation for NAPLAN. ACARA has its head in the sand about it. Supermarkets offer guides for NAPLAN, the internet is awash with “how to” advice, hints and sites where you can get practice tests and even past test papers. Parents are being encouraged to do get their children to do the tests at home and to get coaching for NAPLAN.
As the teacher says, all this practice is cheating and it makes the NAPLAN results reported on My School a farrago.