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NAPLAN 2018: a few weeks late, but otherwise little change from previous years

Glenn Savage and colleagues write in The Conversation (28.8.18) that the current debate about comparability of NAPLAN results would be more concerning if this year’s results showed radically different trends compared to previous years, but they don’t.

‘This year’s NAPLAN results have finally landed. The results are a few weeks behind schedule, due to disagreement over how scores should be reported between the body that administers the test and state education officials.

‘Debate centres on whether data from the new online version of the test and the pen-and-paper version are statistically comparable. The online version is being phased in between now and 2020, and is designed to be more effective due to its adaptive testing design.

‘The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), which is responsible for NAPLAN, maintains the online and paper tests are comparable. ACARA has sought assurance from assessment experts, who say the results are comparable. Others disagree, including two United States assessment experts who yesterday said the online and paper results are “inherently incompatible” and “should be discarded”.

‘Such comments add fuel to an already red-hot fire, driven by those who want NAPLAN scrapped, such as New South Wales education minister Rob Stokes, and those who want a broad scale national review, such as Queensland education minister Grace Grace.

‘But ultimately, we can only work with the data ACARA has released, which combines online and paper data. Overall, it shows 2018 results differ very little from last year’s results or longer-term trends.’

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