NAPLAN for Mummies. What is the purpose of NAPLAN?

The future of our nation depends on our attitude towards children and their schooling

NAPLAN

FOR MUMMIES

What is the purpose of NAPLAN?

A cynic would respond, “To line the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein and other captains of the Testing Industry.”

There is some truth in this. It appears that, some years ago,  Rupert Murdoch saw the future of schooling  [and other education enterprises] to be almost totally digital. Digital education was the future! Any need for schools? In 2012, through his News Corp. organisation, he purchased, for $US371 million, Wireless Generation, a company producing digitised curriculum and assessment material. He enlarged the enterprise , employed over 1200 writers, called it Amplify and appointed Joel Klein, the founder of Australia’s schooling system in 2008, to direct the business of digitising education products and services.  News Corp’s foray into the digitised education business is notable.  We aren’t allowed to talk about it much in Australia, even though we are a critical part of the empire .  It is prudent of News Corp. representatives down-under, to play-down the human stuff-ups of schooling caused by testing regimes; and not to make too much mention of NAPLAN’s failures and peculiarities. Media silence on important issues is part of the scenery down under. This has given NAPLAN and kleinism aka fear-based schooling a pretty free run since 2008. Since News Corp controls most of Australia’s media outlets and, it could be said, has a close linkage with our test-based schooling system, the cynic must have a point.  NAPLAN testing in Australia is  completely digitised this year and we are on the way to fulfilling Rupert’s business vision.  The cost of a tablet for each child completing the test has not been publicised. Financial matters are cunningly operated  by the states using federal taxpayers’ grant money conditionally tied for their diligence to NAPLAN.   It’s very tricky.

There are numerous doctoral theses that can be undertaken: : unravelling the payments made for NAPLAN, by whom to whom, how much, how planned, how organised; the whole scandal of its establishment and who wins. If students and universities are brave enough to examine the various exigencies of NAPLAN testing and they are able to obtain the information,  each thesis should provide interesting reading.

Australian measurers are about to enjoy the use of computer tablets and the purring of the CAT phase of naplanning – Computer Adaptive Testing;   and its UCD – User Centred Design from the field of datafication.  In classroom-speak, that means  the intense  gathering of a variety of data from as many pupils as possible to add it all to a pile of measurement algorithms for deep measurement seances at high levels, holding hands with the high priests of measurement who once gave statisticians their great glory.  Improvement in classroom activities and particularly in pupil attitudes towards learning is purely speculative….and unlikely.  The use of educational technology can be of enormous assistance to classroom learning, but the use of technology merely to streamline the gathering of data is a prostitution of its potential.  Why is it so?

Schooling in Australia is now big business, Mum. Schooling ain’t the well-meaning public service it once was andought to beTesting and datafication are major growth industries.  Schooling ceased being an altruistic, public spirited, humane, community welfare service when NAPLAN hit the fan and spread its testing muck in 2008.  A change of public attitude could bring testing to an end tomorrow, but we do not have the political spunk to challenge those who now tell us what to do and how to think. They are very good at controlling political attitudes. The indoctrination of a disinterested public has been very successful….until now. 

Meanwhile, back at the school gate, parents are unsure.  They wonder what it would be like if schools concentrated on the usual operations  of teaching and learning and not bother with all this super-imposed bally-hoo, Those who care seriously about the full future of their child, must wonder about the effects of testing and the other extra-curricular compulsions, on their child’s overall development. They wonder what kind of person their child will become, what kind of job they will have,  how  their child will cope with doing  jobs that don’t exist yet.   What sort of schooling should they require?  Should they  only need to pass tests of basic standards and little else,  or  should they learn how to evaluate their own progress in whatever they do and be able to make serious decisions; undertake challenges with zest, achieve as high as possible; and partake of art and music and play and sport in a really enjoyable and productive way; and enjoy life,  Gaining high marks in the kind of topics that NAPLAN targets is a piece of cake, if one develops an interest in the subject…the opposite of the naplanning kind of motivation; but the use of fear and despair now built into the testing procedures as part of it, is preferred by our obedient politicians.  We can get PISA scores much higher than we ever have, if we are only able to understand what we are doing and helping schools to develop positive attitudes to learning, instead of wasting time on all this testing. muck.

ACARA describes NAPLAN as follows…

“The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It has been an everyday part of the school calendar since 2008.

NAPLAN tests the sorts of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life, such as reading, 
writing, spelling and numeracy. The assessments are undertaken nationwide, every year, in the second full week in May.

NAPLAN is made up http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/naplan-is-driving-our-students-backwards-20130514-2jk5p.html of tests in the four areas (or ‘domains’) of reading etc.”

This  pronouncement that schools teach NAPLAN every day of the school year is a worry….but…that’s it.  It’s been a take-over of the system, without a doubt.  Has it done any good?

Sorry, Mums.  NAPLAN testing results have been flat-lining or heading down hill.  Quality teachers attribute this to the kleinist philosophy of fear and punishment pervading the intense test preparation that NAPLAN requires.  It certainly ‘turns kids off’ learning. It certainly teaches them to ‘hate’ some subjects and/or to ‘hate’ school. If you allow your child to take part in the rigours of NAPLAN test preparation, you do take a risk, Mum. Ask Lucy Clark. Children always do better at doing something that they like to do…and NAPLAN certainly discourages teaching children from appreciating the beauty of Maths., the magic of Science, the joy of enticing literature. NAPLAN is causing declining, mediocre results in its own tests and in the international PISA tests and in TIMMS!The slides are getting slipperer!

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/naplan-is-driving-our-students-backwards-20130514-2jk5p.html

There is a field of thought that believes that children should be taught to evaluate things themselves using themselves as the rating unit….anything but a silly numeral!  It is immoral, surely,  to impose damaging  high stakes tests on individuals without their permission.  Self-evaluation is an outcome of shared evaluation and is based on the belief that anything we expect others to do requires a close, critical, encouraging audience, and the only one we should share it with is someone whom the learner respects…..teacher, mum, dad, big brother, sister, aunt…. or all of them.

The concept of pupilling is one that testucators have a problem with. They don’t seem to know what it means. They use the word ‘student’ to cover up their inexperience.   Hey, testucator!  It is the reason we send our kids to school! It is a contract between a learner….”I will learn. You will teach. We will both do our best.” and a teacher ….”I will teach. You will learn. We will both do our best.”  No need for any interference, unless requested.  We didn’t ask you to poke your noses into our decent, effective, professional, ethical learning efforts, Mr. Testucator. You weren’t invited to our daily learning fests. We evaluate as we learn. Get outa here!

Might I earnestly suggest, Mums,  that you talk seriously about such issues with a thinking  teacher, other mums and dads about NAPLAN before you make up your mind.  You have until early May, but the best advice is to remove the burden from your child’s shoulders asap.  Let him or her enjoy the good parts of schooling. Your school cannot offer you the choice. It isn’t allowed for obvious totalitarian, testucating reasons.

Please telephone or talk with your local members to determine their attitude to our kleinist form of schooling…….and they will ban it if they are fair dinkum…..and Australia will be better off

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 443           0407865999   cphilcullen@bigpond.com

Refer: “Who’s Who in Australia’ 

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