RETHINK: NAPLAN tests are seen as not being helpful by one lobby group.
RETHINK: NAPLAN tests are seen as not being helpful by one lobby group. Contributed

Too far too fast - how NAPLAN is failing our kids

A NOOSA man is one of the driving forces behind an e-petition to Queensland Parliament signed by more than 6000 people which has NAPLAN testing in its sights.

Jonathan Anstock is the co-founder of lobby group Protecting Childhood.

The petition which closed last Friday tells all elected members that "teachers are being forced to teach an age inappropriate and crowded curriculum which is pushing students too hard, too fast"

Mr Anstock said the petition is demanding the Queensland Department of Education reinstates a play-based prep curriculum and that formal schooling does not begin before age six.

"Teachers have been turned into data collectors, administering a copious number of standardised tests," the petition said.

Protecting Childhood maintains that these reports like NAPLAN "neither inform their knowledge or understanding of each child's abilities or needs, nor enhances learning"

"Children are disengaging from learning in a system which sets many of them up to fail.

"The self-esteem of some children is being damaged and both teachers and children in the system are suffering from stress and anxiety."


Jonathan Anstock.
Jonathan Anstock. Contributed

Mr Anstock said the just-released NAPLAN came with the usual political spin.

"Political leaders and ministers of education across the country have made announcements using the results to applaud, justify or condemn policy in relation to school education," he said.

Mr Anstock is alarmed at the push to introduce Year 1 literally and numeracy assessment, which is NAPLAN by another nam.

He said these annual reports to parents on literacy and numeracy standards would add to the burden of data collection and reporting already felt by schools.

"Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones has highlighted the improvements in Year 3 results," Mr Anstock said.

"Protecting Childhood contends that these results are achieved in spite of the curriculum, not because of it," he said.

"NAPLAN was designed to be a snapshot of specific areas of the nation's students' progress at a point in time.

"It has morphed into being the focus of curriculum itself."

Mr Anstock said it was no coincidence that by focussing on how to improve NAPLAN results that "we actually achieve the opposite" through unnecessary stress to children and teachers.

"Protecting Childhood wants to stop seeing children and teachers and standardised test results used as political footballs."

Protecting Children also wants the end of NAPLAN school-by-school results being released to the public.

"It does not provide transparency or accountability, but creates an atmosphere of pressure, competition and stress."

Ms Jones said more than 200,000 Queensland school students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 completed the NAPLAN test in May.

"Since the beginning of NAPLAN testing in 2008, Queensland schools have demonstrated one of the greatest improvements of any jurisdiction," she said.

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