ACT News

Canberra teachers back Senate call to stop school league tables

Canberra teachers have welcomed Senate recommendations on changes to NAPLAN testing.
Canberra teachers have welcomed Senate recommendations on changes to NAPLAN testing. Photo: Jeff de Pasquale

Canberra teachers have welcomed Senate recommendations on changes to NAPLAN testing and reporting on the My School website that would stop publication of league tables.

The Australian Education Union called league tables "the most harmful element" of NAPLAN testing and reporting.

In a report tabled in Parliament on Thursday, the Senate committee suggested "some of the core ranking and comparative functionality" be removed from the My School website to "limit the disingenuous use of the data to rank schools".

"Any moves that the government wants to put in place to kill off league tables once and for all would be supported by the AEU," branch secretary Glenn Fowler said.

"The issue is not with the literacy and numeracy tests per se, it's with the high-stakes nature of those tests, it's with the misuse of the data … and at times harmful use of the data through a crude league table."


Mr Fowler said the report brought "proper perspective" to the NAPLAN debate and he would like to see more sophistication in NAPLAN testing and My School reporting.

"If we want to talk about schools and school performance, it should be complex, it should never be simple, and so over time we've seen a much more nuanced picture of schools be created in [the My School] website … it's not perfect, NAPLAN tests aren't perfect, but the most pernicious element of all this is the public naming and shaming of schools."

The Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools, which represents parents at non-government schools, declined to comment on league tables, but supports transparency and giving information to parents.

"For us it would be about trying to take out as much hype around the [NAPLAN] exam as possible," association president Charuni Weerasooriya said.

"Once the awareness is there - and I certainly think it is in the ACT - that it's a snapshot view of a child's performance, I think people will start to see [NAPLAN] for what it is - it's just a diagnostic tool.

"Student achievement is not some snapshot thing that you can suddenly go 'this is it' - it's a year-long process."

Ms Weerasooriya and Mr Fowler both welcomed the recommendation for a faster turnaround of test results to teachers and parents. "The diagnostic value of these tests is significantly undermined by the enormous lag - especially for young students," Mr Fowler said.