NAPLAN tests will not take place this year amid the threat from COVID-19, the Education Council (EC) confirmed on Friday (20 March).
Education ministers from around the country acknowledged the risk posed by coronavirus, saying the cancellation of the exams will allow teachers and staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and learning.
With the prevalence of COVID-19 rising across the country, the EC said the spread of the virus would mean some students would miss out on sitting the tests anyway, which would impact the comparability of the data across states and territories.
“The decision to not proceed with NAPLAN in 2020 also means that the scheduled testing of the NAPLAN Online platform, known as the Coordinated Practice Test, will not proceed,” the EC said in a statement.
Marking centres would also have exposed teachers and staff to risks.
The National Cabinet, on the advice on the advice of the chief health and medical officers, reiterated that school closures were “not proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission at this time.”
ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry, who was party to the decision, said that NAPLAN testing would have been very difficult to conduct safely given the circumstances.
“Not proceeding with NAPLAN this year will be of great relief to the operation of schools in facilitating NAPLAN testing at this time – importantly for teachers on the frontline every day,” she said.
“Under the most challenging of circumstances, our teachers are showing up every day to continue educating our students. I am grateful for their commitment to students as always.”
The announcement came just days after Ms Berry criticised the Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority (ACARA) for what she called flawed NAPLAN data comparisons on the MySchool website.
“The data reported for the ACT does not present a reliable indicator of NAPLAN performance in the ACT,” she said.
“This is because of flaws in a new method for comparing the actual performance of a school with a statistical prediction of how the school should have performed in NAPLAN.”
Ms Berry says the way scores are estimated overinflates expectations from ACT schools.
“The average of predicted student scores for a school indicates the ‘expected’ school performance, which is then compared with the actual average school score,” she said.
“The ACT has a predominately public service workforce where many people hold the job title ‘manager’ across a range of employment classifications, and 65 per cent of ACT students have a parent with a bachelor’s degree or above, compared to the national average of 35 per cent.
“These two factors together artificially increase predicted NAPLAN scores. Comparing the predicted and actual scores results in a large difference that falsely suggests the underperformance of ACT schools.”
Students in years three, five, seven and nine were set to take the exams between 12 to 22 May.