Effects of NAPLAN on school communities

Effects of NAPLAN on school communities

Friday 6 June, C1-60 Magill Campus, 2pm.

Mandated literacy assessment and the reorganisation of teachers’ work: an Institutional Ethnography
Presented by Professor Barbara Comber and Dr Lyn Kerkham.
The importance of measurable literacy outcomes has escalated over the past decade with international and national league tables now a ubiquitous feature of the educational landscape. How standardization is organized translocally and how it shapes teachers’ work in different local contexts was the focus of an ARC Discovery project conducted in Victoria and South Australia 2009-2011. In this presentation we briefly outlined the design of that study, key inquiry questions, the approach and key findings, particularly drawing on the South Australian data. We explained how key texts re-organise the work of school leaders and teachers and ultimately what comes to count as literacy. As a post-script we illustrate how school principals mediate the effects of high stakes assessment in productive and ethical ways by drawing on a current ARC Linkage which is exploring educational leadership and turnaround literacy pedagogies in schools serving high poverty communities.

Complex Stakes: Thinking through the validity of NAPLAN
Presented by Dr Greg Thompson
Since 2008, NAPLAN has been a feature in the Australian school calendar. While the tests themselves have been controversial, a related debate about the ‘stakes’ of NAPLAN continues. This is an important debate as stakes can impact on the validity of any assessment in a variety of ways. Many of these debates have, thus far, been divided along positional and/or ideological grounds. In this presentation, Greg presented data from his 3 year ARC project into the effects of NAPLAN that shows that the stakes associated with the tests are complex, and are impacted by a variety of factors including contextual, systemic and professional characteristics. In some cases these factors appear to ‘protect’ schools from the effects of high-stakes, and in others expose schools to the unintended consequences that high-stakes have. Finally, he argues that this presents significant challenges for those wanting to use NAPLAN to either as a system ‘health-check’ or as an accountability measure.

Areas of study and research

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