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APPA calls for NAPLAN guidelines

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Media Release



The Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) notes with interest the publication of the

2013 NAPLAN Summary Report and emphasises that any use of the report’s data to construct

league tables will be of no benefit to the children of Australia. The interpretation of data must be

made in the light of purpose and the wealth of other assessment data available from within


In commending teachers and schools for the role they play in ensuring an appropriate emphasis

on national testing, APPA President, Norm Hart, warned of the dangers ahead should the

pressures to perform in NAPLAN continue. Mr Hart said,

“The reality is that NAPLAN results will not improve year after year if the classroom focus

is driven by the narrow band of student learning assessed by these tests."

In an independent survey on the impact of NAPLAN in schools, commissioned by APPA and

conducted by public affairs consultants CANVASS in the lead up to this year's NAPLAN tests,

responses from over 1,300 primary school leaders were recorded.

The CANVASS Report states:

"For the fifty-eight percent of schools that spend class time preparing for NAPLAN,

results were spread fairly evenly between one week and ten weeks. Twenty-eight percent

allocate preparation time in the one to five weeks prior to the tests. Around ten percent

allocate time for NAPLAN preparation six to nine weeks before the tests and a further

nine percent start allocating time for preparation ten weeks out. Eleven percent allocate

preparation time more than ten weeks prior to the tests."

When asked how many hours per week they allocate in the run-up to NAPLAN, half of the

respondents said their schools allocate between one and three hours each week and a further

twelve percent allocate four to five hours per week.

Mr Hart said,

"The fact that school leaders believe this use of learning time is necessary for NAPLAN

preparation clearly indicates the high stakes nature of the tests in the minds of parents,

students and teachers."



APPA accepts the advice to schools from Professor Barry McGaw, Chair of the Australian

Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Board that the best preparation for

NAPLAN is to provide a rich primary curriculum for students every day. Mr Hart said,

"Outside a few sessions to familiarise students with the layout of the tests and some

good advice about test techniques, spending long periods of time practising for NAPLAN

is counterproductive and may result in students developing negative attitudes to school

and learning. These children have their whole lives ahead of them and we must keep

them switched on to learning."

Mr Hart went on to call for education authorities to provide firm guidelines about the types of

activities that constitute appropriate NAPLAN preparation and how much time should be spent

on them.

APPA believes primary principals will welcome guidelines that put the focus back on children's

learning rather than student testing.

The Australian Primary Principals Association represents 7,200 Government, Catholic and

Independent primary school principals across Australia.


Media contact:

Steve Portlock (APPA Deputy President)

0407 714 456