NAPLAN tests 'a waste of time, money': Academic

Associate Professor Michael Nagel believes NAPLAN testing is a waste of time and money.
Associate Professor Michael Nagel believes NAPLAN testing is a waste of time and money. Brett Wortman

COAST academic Professor Michael Nagel puts no value in NAPLAN testing used to rate schools' progress across Australia.

He is an associate professor in child development and learning at University of the Sunshine Coast's school of education.

"It (NAPLAN) really is a waste of money," Professor Nagel said.

"It really doesn't tell us much about what kids can and can't do."

He said a focus on baseline, standardised testing tended to lead to baseline results.

"We assume all kids are the same."

Professor Nagel said that approach was thrown out by varying levels of resources schools dedicated to the test.

He said some schools ran NAPLAN bootcamps while others in disadvantaged areas weren't able to take the focused approach.

"We create a whole heap of disadvantage because of all of the things that happen leading up to it (the test).

"Just because a school does well at NAPLAN doesn't mean it is doing well by its students."

He said it couldn't measure important attributes such as creativity and placed pressure on students.

"One of the things that is really troubling about NAPLAN is it stresses kids."

Professor Nagel said studies had showed insomnia and anxiety were among the effects.

He said it was also unfair on schools and teachers that did not fare so well.

"In a nutshell, it is a waste of time and money."

His role at the university includes training teachers.

He said his focus was to give them skill sets to evaluate children's performance and progress in many ways.

"There are better ways."

He said most countries that had embarked on standardised testing over the years had abandoned it.

"We've been doing NAPLAN for 10 years and it has shown no marked improvement."

He said Year 3 students were typically above the benchmark when tested for literacy but tended not to progress further beyond that as they got older.

"Basics are not missing in Australia, it is challenge and complexity (that are missing) when it comes to testing."

Topics:  education naplan 2017 results school sunshine coast teaching university of the sunshine coast

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