Education Minister says new NAPLAN data is flawed

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EDUCATION Minister Yvette Berry has today (March 18) accused the Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority (ACARA) of releasing flawed NAPLAN data comparisons for the ACT on the “MySchool” website. 

“The data reported for the ACT do not present a reliable indicator of NAPLAN performance in the ACT,” says Ms Berry.

Yvette Berry

“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. [And], ACARA, other states and territories, and education data experts agree that there are anomalies in the ACT data.”

With the support of all states and territories and the federal government, Ms Berry says ACARA will seek expert advice to review the approach adopted for NAPLAN comparisons this year.

“Until this review is completed and the flaws corrected the comparisons cannot be relied on as a measure of the ACT’s NAPLAN performance,” she says.

“ACARA’s new method for benchmarking school NAPLAN results predicts the score that a student should have achieved in NAPLAN based on four factors. These factors are their parents’ job title and highest level of education, as well as the remoteness of their school and the percentage of Indigenous students at the school.

“The average of predicted student scores for a school indicates the ‘expected’ school performance, which is then compared with the actual average school score.

“The method for predicting student scores does not work in the ACT. The ACT has a predominately public service workforce where many people hold the job title ‘manager’ across a range of employment classifications. 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 underperformance of ACT schools, both government and non-government.

“There is also a problem with establishing meaningful statistical prediction for the ACT because of the relatively small number of schools and students.”

The change to how ACARA compares results between schools has meant that the data comparisons released today for ACT schools are even more unreliable and invalid than in previous years, Ms Berry says.

“As I have consistently raised, NAPLAN is misused when schools are compared as though it is a competition. And there is more to measuring school performance than NAPLAN,” she says.

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