Campaign to replace NAPLAN announced

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Annual Conference decision: “NAPLAN has failed by every criterion it has set itself.”

Federation is campaigning to replace the NAPLAN approach to assessment and testing.

Endorsed at Annual Conference on 2-4 July, the campaign aims to protect the quality of teaching and learning in our public school classrooms from the negative effects of NAPLAN testing as it is currently formulated.

The conference decision states:

“The NAPLAN testing regime has failed to lift national performance as measured by global tests; it has failed to enrich the quality of teaching practice; it has narrowed the range and depth of what is taught in the nation’s classrooms; it has caused a culture of shaming vulnerable children and communities with a profound human cost; it has led to a decline in the educational experience of school children in the creative, performing and imaginative arts and in parts of the curriculum that are intangible and immeasurable but vital to the human and ethical development of young people. NAPLAN has failed by every criterion it has set itself. The current approaches to this type of assessment and testing must be replaced.”

The campaign will address:

  • issues arising from the NAPLAN Online trial, such as unequal student access to computer technology, the inadequacies and inequities in the technical capacity of schools, and computer marking of extended prose
  • the decision to base a HSC literacy and numeracy standard on Year 9 NAPLAN results rather than the HSC syllabuses that are taught and examined
  • the “teaching to the test” trend caused by the attachment of high stakes to what was intended to be a diagnostic test
  • the growing obsession with school and student data collection
  • the self-serving goals of edu-businesses that regard schools and students as a consumer market for their products and services.

Federation has published a paper entitled Crossroads: A Green Paper on Assessment Policy for use in professional development activities and for discussion with parents and community members.

It outlines key actions and ideas that are jeopardising the quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms and makes the case for changing current policies and practices.

A hard copy of the green paper has been posted to all principals and Federation Representatives. It is also available at

The foundations for the NAPLAN campaign are being developed. Federation’s position has been put in meetings with Department Secretary Mark Scott and Minister for Education Rob Stokes. Meetings have been held, or are being organised, with the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, Primary Principals’ Association, the Independent Education Union and at the national level with the Australian Education Union.

The aim is to build a strong alliance of parents, community members, teachers and principals to convince governments to fundamentally change their approach to assessment and testing.

Federation is liaising with eminent academics with experience and expertise in this field.

The case for change has been made to NESA. The same will be done with ACARA.

As was achieved with schools funding, the aim is to change the way people think about curriculum, assessment and testing. It will take time and effort.

With the quality of teaching and learning for all our students at stake, however, it is surely worth it.

Don’t sign NAPLAN document

It has been reported to Federation that members are being asked to sign a confidentiality agreement in relation to the administration of NAPLAN Online and are being told they cannot retain a copy.

Federation accepts that teachers have obligations arising out of their employment with the Department. However, Federation does not accept that individual teachers can be asked to sign an agreement with a third party in order to perform their duties as an employee, particularly when the full nature and consequences for a breach of that agreement are unknown. At the very least, people should be entitled to keep a copy of any document they are asked to sign. Federation is seeking further legal advice and will provide an update to members as soon as possible.

In the meantime:

  • members are advised NOT to sign the document. If an attempt is made to coerce you to sign the document, refuse and immediately contact your Federation Organiser
  • if you have already signed the document, you should insist on being provided with a copy, either directly from the officer who asked you to sign or in a request to ACARA via your Principal.
  • if this request is refused, this should be reported to the Federation through the local Federation Organiser or via [email protected].

ACARA and the Department have not yet adequately addressed the union’s concerns. For updates on this ongoing issues visit Federation’s website.

Federation is continuing to pursue the broader concerns arising from the trial of NAPLAN Online. Contact the NAPLAN Hotline (02) 9217 2132 to communicate your experiences.