Schools abandon NAPLAN online
DOZENS of state schools have abandoned plans to transition to NAPLAN online amid mounting political and union opposition to the digital test.
In February this year, 108 public primary and high schools across the country had registered their intention to take the NAPLAN tests online.
But since then, state schools have left the online trial in droves, with only 18 now expected to use computers for this week's tests.
The Department of Education has rejected suggestions this major about-face has resulted in confusion for the hundreds of children who initially thought they were sitting the test online before their school reverted to the paper-based tests.
"Whether the test is undertaken online or with pen and paper, teachers ensure that students are familiar with the test formats and provide appropriate support and guidance," a department spokesman said.
The annual literacy and numeracy tests of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 begin today, with more than 1 million students sitting them across the country.
Queensland is expected to have the lowest participation rate for the online tests, which will be undertaken at a total of 83 schools across the state, including 53 Catholic and 12 independent.
Nationwide, 200,000 students will do the tests online - 20 per cent of the total.
All schools in all states and territories are expected to transition to NAPLAN online by 2020.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Robert Randall said the online tests automatically adapt to a student's performance.
"Tailored testing is more engaging for students and provides more precise and detailed information to teachers," Mr Randall said.
But Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said his members had voted to ban the rollout of NAPLAN online in their classrooms.
The QTU is also encouraging its members to avoid turning up for NAPLAN online information training sessions.
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace has called for a review of NAPLAN testing through the Council of Australian Governments' Education Council, which would also look at plans for the expansion of NAPLAN online.
"We have been using NAPLAN for 10 years, and it's timely that we review it," she said. "I want to make sure that teachers have time to teach the full curriculum, the right information is used for the right purposes, and any unintended consequences are recognised and addressed."
KEYED UP FOR THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL TESTING
IT MIGHT have its opponents, but scores of Catholic and independent schools are embracing the chance to take NAPLAN tests online this year.
Students at Westside Christian College will be among the first Queenslanders taking the test online.
Principal Barry Leverton said online testing was the way of the future.
"A lot of school assessments these days are done online so this is no different," he said.
"If NAPLAN continues to exist it is inevitable that all schools will end up doing it online."
Schools taking the NAPLAN online test have been given contingency plans by federal and state curriculum bodies, and will have a 15 minute window to resolve any technical issues. If problems cannot be resolved in that time, students revert to pencil and paper-based tests.
Principal of St Luke's Anglican School in Bundaberg, Craig Merritt, said taking NAPLAN online was an extension of the school's ambition to put creativity and innovation at the centre of its curriculum.
Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said independent schools had put significant time and resources into the shift to online testing.