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Fight over NAPLAN will continue until students benefit, says union

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The Queensland Teachers’ Union is unable to stop NAPLAN tests but will look to broaden the campaign for change

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After the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission blocked the union’s bid to stop NAPLAN tests, the union reverted to withdrawing all peripheral support for the testing program.

That was in line with a 2018 joint statement between the union and the Department of Education that acknowledged excessive preparation was unnecessary, and “familiarisation activities should only be conducted in the vicinity of the tests”.

While the tests are scheduled for May, union president Cresta Richardson maintained they were disruptive, of little benefit to students and no longer “fit for purpose”.

Rather than provide trends that schools and departments could use for internal improvement, NAPLAN allowed for unfair comparisons to be made between schools using flawed models.

“The dataset for NAPLAN is completely corrupted because the 2018 data was riddled with errors, 2019 wasn’t as bad but still had problems, and then last year it didn’t go ahead at all,” Richardson said, referring to the history of online testing.

Federal, state and territory governments have discussed the future of NAPLAN but reached a stalemate. Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace would not comment today.

Richardson, who took over the role of president last week, said the union had campaigned on NAPLAN for 12 years and would continue to do so. This would involve “talking with the community, working with parents, and looking at a broader campaign”.

A departmental spokeswoman downplayed the significance of the 2018 joint statement and said the government expected “the full cooperation of the QTU in the preparation and conduct of NAPLAN for 2021”.

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