NAPLAN scores kept secret in school ranking ban

Parents will be kept in the dark about school NAPLAN rankings under a new ban on "league tables'' for literacy and numeracy.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has now banned schools and the media from publishing comparisons of school performance in national literacy and numeracy tests.

Its MySchool website was updated today with 2020 enrolment data and 2019 financial information.

The taxpayer-funded portal does not contain any 2020 data on truancy rates, or results from NAPLAN (National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy), since last year's tests were cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comparisons of school performance in national literacy and numeracy tests will no longer be made public.
Comparisons of school performance in national literacy and numeracy tests will no longer be made public.

Parents can still look up the previous NAPLAN results of individual schools, but can no longer easily compare schools or access lists of the top and bottom performers.

The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) slammed the secrecy "dragging us back to the education dark ages''.

"There are absolutely no grounds for snubbing parents' and the public's interests in an open and transparent display of school performance - whether that happens to be good, average or poor,'' CIS research fellow in education policy Glenn Fahey said.

Mr Fahey said the previous MySchool portal had let parents make "easy and meaningful comparisons between schools''.

"Watering down use of league tables sends the message that we want to cover up, rather than shine light on, school performance,'' he said.

"Parents want resources to help choosing a school and to be confident their chosen school is up to scratch.''

Parents and principals can no longer see how their school compares against other schools of a similar size and socio-economic background, after ACARA ditched its longstanding comparison of every school against 60 "similar schools'' across the country.

Instead, each school will now be compared to the average NAPLAN score of all students across Australia with a similar background, taking into account their location, parental income and whether they are Indigenous.

The ban on ranking schools - demanded by state and territory education ministers under pressure from teacher unions - will make it harder for parents and principals to spot which schools are the best and worst performers in basic literacy and numeracy, to drive improvements.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge insisted NAPLAN testing will continue this year.

"It is absolutely fundamental and a critical part of providing information for parents, teachers and accountability mechanisms,'' he said.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge insisted NAPLAN testing will continue this year. Picture: Sean Davey
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge insisted NAPLAN testing will continue this year. Picture: Sean Davey

ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said attendance data had not been published because it was "severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the different arrangements that were put in place for schooling across the country in response to health advice''.

Mr de Carvalho said the MySchool data would help parents make "informed decisions about their child's education''.

For the past decade, NAPLAN tests have been held in every school in May each year to test and compare the learning of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

Teacher unions oppose the tests, claiming they distract from teaching and cause students too much stress.

Originally published as NAPLAN scores kept secret in school ranking ban



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