A special principal advisory committee will immediately begin investigating options to improve the relevance of NAPLAN for Year 9 students.
The latest NAPLAN results show the Education State reforms are working, with Victoria’s primary students leading the nation and Year 7 results on the rise. However, Year 9 students are not showing the same improvements.
Year 9 students across the country in both government and non-government schools experienced similar flat results. Year 9 has long been considered the hardest cohort to engage in education.
Schools report this year level doesn’t always see the relevance of NAPLAN tests or take them seriously. It also doesn’t reflect what Year 9 students are capable of, or the hard work of principals and teachers in the classroom.
The special committee will consult with teachers, parents and students, and come up with ideas to improve the relevance of the test for Year 9 students. The committee will consider a range of ideas including, for example, the introduction of a proficiency certificate based on student reading and numeracy results.
Students would use the certificate to guide their selection of Year 11 or 12 subjects, plan their working life beyond school and include it in their careers portfolio when seeking a part-time job. Making this connection between a student’s efforts in Year 9 and their career would encourage them to give their best efforts when they sit NAPLAN.
The Andrews Labor Government has also asked for the upcoming NAPLAN review by NSW, QLD and VIC to examine whether the year levels that currently sit NAPLAN are most appropriate for standardised testing.
The change could include moving NAPLAN tests from Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to Years 4, 6, 8 and 10. This would give secondary schools more timely information about achievement levels of students as they transition from primary school and would better enable students to use their results as they consider senior secondary choices.
The Labor Government has already introduced intensive support for struggling students in Year 8 to 10 through the $183 million Middle Years Literacy and Numeracy program. The program gives students in these years who have below-minimum literacy and numeracy skills direct, individual support and tuition by specifically-trained teachers.
The Labor Government is also reducing distraction in the classroom and supporting the mental health of students in these formative years by introducing a mobile phone ban in all state schools in 2020 and ensuring every government secondary school has access to a qualified mental health practitioner.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino
“These results don’t reflect what students are capable of and we must investigate options to ensure our Year 9 students are more engaged. This is about making the test more relevant, not adding unnecessary stress to NAPLAN.”
“There may be mixed views about these ideas, but we want to hear from principals, teachers, parents and students about how we can make NAPLAN relevant and ensure Year 9 students are engaged and giving it their best shot.”
“We will always need a form of standardised testing to understand where we need to make improvements and investments – that’s why it is important to undertake this work and make sure we are getting it right.”