Online NAPLAN tests that become progressively more or less difficult depending on how many answers students get right yield more precise results and lead to greater student engagement, a major trial has found.
Although annecdotally I have been informed that the trials in at least one case left those administering it a bit perplexed by how schools actually function on a day to day basis ( imagine if they visited Glen Park?) they have been regarded as a success and will possibly be in place in schools by 2017. ( They will need to ensure that all school are ready technologically to administer the tests. I can think of a lot of schools that would struggle to do this! it also sounds a lot like On Demand testing which we already use in Victorian state schools?)
The tailored tests, which will be adopted when the national assessments move online over the next few years, were found to be especially beneficial for the highest and lowest performing students, who previously may have been unchallenged by easy questions or felt deflated and given up when questions became too difficult.
Students who participated in the trial reported feeling positive and accomplished and were not affected by the shifting level of difficulty throughout the test. The tailored format can also reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem because students are not discouraged by increasingly complex tasks.
ACARA states that "In an online administration, we can test when the student is ready, earlier or later, depending on each student's achievement level and progress throughout the school year."
Future exams would also include technologically enhanced questions, currently being trialled, which might ask students to edit texts, shade graphs or shift angles.
Students would wear headphones during spelling tests, allowing them to listen to the words they are asked to spell.( Not sure how the writing test would be administered. Some children struggle to type fast enough to record their ideas.)
When parents at Altona Primary School received their children's NAPLAN results this week, it came with a note from the "proud" grade 3 and 5 teachers.
The school was proud of its students, the note said, as they had demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried their very best in the tests.
"However we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that makes each of you special and unique.
"They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument, or that you can dance or paint a picture ... they do not know you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful ... So enjoy your results ... but remember, there are many ways of being smart!"( yes I've seen something like this before online in response to the plethora of state tests that US schools have to administer every year)
The school said "While we know NAPLAN does serve an important purpose, we thought it was important that children had a holistic view of the assessment."
Meanwhile, the Australian Primary Principals Association released a discussion paper arguing for NAPLAN data to be removed from the My School website.
President Norm Hart said schools should report their NAPLAN results, together with the national and state results, to students, parents and the community.
"However, the evidence is clear that when a school's results are published on My School, NAPLAN too often becomes the key source of information about a school, and this is particularly so when league tables result."
Mr Hart said the comparison of schools had led to a stifling of creative and effective teaching. Not surprisingly ACARA disagrees saying that publishing data aids transparency.