NAPLAN testing - remote indigenous communities

Investigating the impact of NAPLAN testing on remote indigenous communities. This aim was to investigate the impact of NAPLAN testing on children in remote Indigenous communities, from a range of perspectives.

The LTRC worked on this study along with several other applied linguistics and linguistics staff in the School of Languages and Linguistics. All educational testing is intended to have consequences, which are assumed to be beneficial, but tests may also have unintended, negative consequences (Messick, 1989). The issue is particularly important in the case of large-scale standardised tests, such as the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), the results of which are intended to guide government educational policy. Understanding the extent and nature of the effects precipitated by a test is a key aspect of test validation, but it is often neglected. This study aimed to investigate the impact of NAPLAN testing on children in remote Indigenous communities from a range of perspectives. 

A series of interviews were conducted with principals, teachers, and education support staff across a range of states and territories and educational sectors, to establish informants’ first-hand experiences of the use of NAPLAN at their school and its impact. The findings showed that all informants agreed that NAPLAN in its current form is not an appropriate tool to assess children in remote Indigenous communities. While the impact of the test differed across contexts, most stakeholders were generally engaged in trying to downplay the impact on the children without interfering with their participation. Suggestions for possible adaptations of the test to make it more suitable to indigenous children living in remote communities were also made by participants.
This study offers a timely contribution to the national discussion on the use of NAPLAN, particularly with populations that may be disadvantaged.

Abstract:

All educational testing is intended to have consequences, which are assumed to be beneficial, but tests may also have unintended, negative consequences (Messick, 1989). The issue is particularly important in the case of large-scale standardised tests, such as the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), the results of which are intended to guide government educational policy. Understanding the extent and nature of the effects precipitated by a test is a key aspect of test validation, but it is often neglected. This study aimed to investigate the impact of NAPLAN testing on children in remote Indigenous communities from a range of perspectives.
We conducted a series of interviews with principals, teachers, and education support staff across a range of states and territories and educational sectors to establish informants’ first-hand experiences of the use of NAPLAN at their school and its impact.
The findings showed that all informants agreed that NAPLAN in its current form is not an appropriate tool to assess children in remote indigenous communities. While the impact of the test differed across contexts, most stakeholders were generally engaged in trying to downplay the impact on the children without interfering with their participation. Suggestions for possible adaptations of the test to make it more suitable to indigenous children living in remote communities were also made by participants.
This study offers a timely contribution to the national discussion on the use of NAPLAN, particularly with populations that may be disadvantaged.