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Beyond Test Scores - Schools Urged to Tell Their Story

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) has called for schools to speak out about their rich and meaningful student outcomes that extend beyond NAPLAN test scores.

The call comes as students across the nation, including about 263,000 in Queensland, prepare to sit the annual National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests from tomorrow (15 May).

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said alongside the current debate about future schooling reforms, parallel consideration should be given to the education data released into the public domain and how it can best tell the real story of schooling progress and achievement.

“NAPLAN is a crucial tool to enable schools and teachers to identify where students require additional support. Importantly, it also provides for a high level of school and school system accountability for literacy and numeracy outcomes,” Mr Robertson said.

“Our focus should be on ensuring that NAPLAN continues to achieve its original objectives and be effective as a mechanism for improving student outcomes.”

Mr Robertson said schools were becoming increasingly frustrated with some of the reporting on NAPLAN, particularly with “top of the table” and “winners and losers” comparisons based on the annual test results.

“In recent years, the national conversation has started shifting and broadening to include ‘education gain and improvement’, with schools making the greatest leaps now also being celebrated,” he said.

“With increasingly sophisticated quantitative and qualitative data now available, it is timely to consider what information meaningfully and accurately tells the story of Australia’s schooling progress.”

“It is also equally important to examine what data stakeholders, such as governments, schools and parents, need and for what purpose.”

“The Education Council has already taken the first step by commissioning draft terms of reference for a review of the reporting of NAPLAN results which is due to be considered at its June meeting.”

ISQ today released an update to a paper it commissioned when My School was first launched in 2010.

The paper, Schools Speaking for Themselves: Telling the Real Story, by respected educator Norm Hunter OAM, challenges schools to construct a rich and meaningful school narrative that extends beyond test scores.

“The research, arguments and examples that Mr Hunter puts forward are just as relevant today, if not more so, in this information-rich social media age, than they were in 2010,” Mr Robertson said.

“Mr Hunter has extended his analysis in this 2018 paper to include new insights into the increasing role schools are playing in supporting student development and wellbeing,” he said.

“The work schools do to develop the potential, resilience and personal capabilities of their students is not easily quantified but is a critically important element in the stories schools share about themselves.”


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