Introduction and overview
On 15 May 2013 the Senate referred to the Senate Standing References
Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations the matter of the
effectiveness of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy
(NAPLAN) for inquiry and report by 27 June 2013.
The committee called for submissions and published a total of 93 submissions.
The committee conducted a public hearing in Melbourne on 21 June 2013.
The committee determined that the evidence provided in submissions,
combined with evidence provided by witnesses during the committee's hearing
demonstrated that the committee required more time to adequately discharge its
reference and present a properly considered report. The committee's interim report
provided a snapshot of the key issues, however did not reach any conclusions or
make any recommendations.
Terms of reference
The terms of reference determined by the Senate required the Senate
Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee to inquire and report
The effectiveness of the National Assessment Program –
Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), with specific reference to:
whether the evidence suggests that
NAPLAN is achieving its stated objectives;
unintended consequences of
NAPLAN's impact on teaching and
student learning practices;
the impact on teaching and student
learning practices of publishing NAPLAN test results on the My School website;
potential improvements to the
program, to improve student learning and assessment;
- international best practice for
standardised testing, and international case studies about the introduction of
standardised testing; and
other relevant matters.
Conduct of the inquiry to date
During the 43rd Parliament notice of the inquiry was posted
on the committee's website and advertised in The Australian newspaper,
calling for submissions by 7 June 2013. The committee also wrote to
stakeholders to notify them of the inquiry and invite submissions. The
committee published a total of 93 submissions.
The committee conducted a public hearing in Melbourne on 21 June 2013. A
list of witnesses who gave evidence before the committee is at Appendix 2.
Copies of the Hansard transcript from the committee's hearings can be accessed
online at http://aph.gov.au/hansard.
The committee decided to readopt this inquiry and published 6 further
submissions to add to the 93 published with the interim report. A list of all
99 submissions is included at Appendix 1. This appendix also includes
information on documents tabled by the committee during the course of the
hearing. A number of submissions were redacted prior to their publication to
protect personal details.
The 2010 inquiry
This committee completed an inquiry into the administration and
reporting of NAPLAN testing in November 2010.
The terms of reference for that inquiry were:
the conflicting claims made by the Government, educational experts and
peak bodies in relation to the publication of the National Assessment Program –
Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing;
the implementation of possible safeguards and protocols around the
public presentation of the testing and reporting data;
the impact of the NAPLAN assessment and reporting regime on:
the educational experience and outcomes for Australian students,
the scope, innovation and quality of teaching practice,
the quality and value of information about student progress provided to
parents and principals, and
the quality and value of information about individual schools to
parents, principals and the general community; and
international approaches to the publication of comparative reporting of
the results, i.e. ‘league tables’; and
other related matters.
The committee majority at this time made twelve recommendations targeted
at reforming the NAPLAN assessment program. Recommendations included reforms to
the publication and representation of test data, arrangements for students with
a disability, provision for students with a language background other than
English, measures to ensure the integrity of the testing process, reforms to
the My School website and management of publication of league tables in
the media. Government Senators (The Australian Labor Party at the time of the
2010 inquiry) and the Australian Greens also appended dissenting and additional
comments to the report.
The Australian Government, in consultation with the Australian
Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the relevant COAG
council, has since implemented a number of the recommendations and introduced
changes to the My School website.
Structure of the report
This report is divided into five chapters. Chapter one sets out the
administrative arrangements for the inquiry as well as an update of the
recommendations from the committee's 2010 inquiry into The administration and
reporting of NAPLAN testing.
Chapter two considers NAPLAN's objectives and whether or not they have
been achieved. It also provides a background to NAPLAN testing in Australia
and why NAPLAN was introduced.
Chapter three considers the impacts of NAPLAN on students, teachers and
schools. It then discusses the MySchool website and what effect the
publication of NAPLAN results has on the process.
Chapter four considers potential improvements to the NAPLAN testing
program that may contribute to improved student learning and assessment.
Chapter five examines international best practice for standardised
The committee extends its gratitude to the large number of individuals
and organisations who made submissions to this inquiry, and to witnesses who
offered their time to give evidence at public hearings and provided additional
information. Both contributed greatly to shaping the committee's deliberations
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