Primary student results in national reading tests have improved over the past five years, a new report shows, but a printing error means parents will have to wait several weeks to find out how their own child performed in the latest round of exams.
Preliminary results from this year's National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), showed there had been an improvement in the national mean test scores for year 3 students in reading, grammar and punctuation, as well as year 5 reading. Results remained steady in other subjects and among high school students.
Parents were to receive reports this week, four months after the tests, but the printing error delay now means that will be the week beginning October 13.
The slow turnaround of results has been among the most common complaints about NAPLAN identified in a Senate inquiry, with submissions arguing that the test's usefulness as a diagnostic tool is compromised by the long lag.
The Coalition has promised to reduce the turnaround from four to three months. But the chief executive of the government authority which conducts the test said he is confident online tests in coming years could mean the results are returned even faster.
''Once you move things online there is a whole bunch of efficiencies in it … I actually think moving it online we could do better than 12 weeks,'' said Rob Randall, chief executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
While a faster turnaround would be welcome, Rachel Sowden, spokeswoman for the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations, said parents should not be waiting on NAPLAN results before talking to teachers about any concerns. ''Realistically, if your child is in need of some support in any area you shouldn't be waiting until third class, and you certainly shouldn't be waiting until September in third class.''
Christopher Pyne, expected to be Tony Abbott's education minister, previously said publishing school results on the My School website meant NAPLAN had ''been bastardised from something useful into something loathed'', and has promised to review the practice.
Mr Randall said the national improvements in primary school reading should be acknowledged and celebrated, but said they would like to see improvements on the steady high school results.
''A few years ago we saw the improvement in [year 3] reading appearing and that now followed through to year 5, so we think that's a good news story there at a national level,'' he said.
The Australian Greens have confirmed they will move to reconvene the Senate inquiry once Parliament resumes. "The evidence we heard left me in no doubt that the My School site has made NAPLAN a high-stakes test which puts pressure on teachers and students alike and distracts from student learning,'' said Senator Penny Wright.
The Labor government had indicated science would be added to NAPLAN. But a date was left to the discretion of the Ministerial Council, which includes state, territory and federal education ministers. There is speculation the test may now not go ahead. The Coalition has foreshadowed a $23 million cut in money earmarked for ACARA.