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NAPLAN, MySchool and accountability: Teacher perceptions of the effects of high-stakes testing in Australia.

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http://openjournals.library.usyd.edu.au/index.php/IEJ/article/viewFile/7456/7815 This paper explores Rizvi and Lingard’s (2010) idea of the “local vernacular” of the global education policy trend of using high-stakes testing to increase accountability and transparency, and by extension quality, within schools and education systems in Australia. In the first part of the paper a brief context of the policy trajectory of National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is given in Australia. In the second part, empirical evidence drawn from a survey of teachers in Western Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA) is used to explore teacher perceptions of the impacts a high-stakes testing regime is having on student learning, relationships with parents and pedagogy in specific sites. After the 2007 Australian Federal election, one of Labor’s policy objectives was to deliver an “Education Revolution” designed to improve both the equity and excellence in the Australian school system1 (Rudd & Gillard, 2008). This reform agenda aims to “deliver real changes” through: “raising the quality of teaching in our schools” and “improving transparency and accountability of schools and school systems” (Rudd & Gillard, 2008, p. 5). Central to this linking of accountability, the transparency of schools and school systems and raising teaching quality was the creation of a regime of testing (NAPLAN) that would generate data about the attainment of basic literacy and numeracy skills by students in Australian schools.
... These negative flow-on effects can be categorised into impacts on first, schools, second, teachers, third, teaching and fourth, students. At the school level, while national and state testing programs may sharpen the focus on what policymakers see as essential competencies, they have been found to be associated with reduced student access to and emphasis on curriculum areas that are not included within the testing program, encouraging teachers to teach to the test and narrowing the learning focus (Polesel et al., 2014;Rentner et al., 2006;Thompson, 2013;Thompson & Harbaugh, 2013). Some research has found evidence of reduced time spent on non-tested areas (such as the arts) and there is evidence that these types of effects may be most keenly felt in disadvantaged schools, which may be under most pressure to bring their students 'up to scratch' (Thompson & Harbaugh, 2013). ...
... Some studies have found that national and state testing programs are associated with a reduction in teachers' morale and sense of professional autonomy (Crocco & Costigan, 2007;Wright & Choi, 2005). Thompson (2013) respondents indicated that NAPLAN tests in Australia had generated increased pressure on teaching staff. Ashadi and Rice (2016) documented impacts on teachers' professional opportunities and career pathways in Indonesia, with those teachers perceived to be more competent or better qualified being assigned to classes sitting for the national tests and being offered more extensive professional learning than other teachers in the same schools. ...
... Athanasou (2010), cited in Polesel et al., 2012) reported that wellbeing issues, such as the inability to sleep, were associated with NAPLAN tests among Australian primary students. Other Australian research with teachers finds that they identify NAPLAN as having a negative impact on student wellbeing (Cummings et al., 2015), with reports of increased student anxiety and stress, or even crying (Thompson, 2013;Rice et al., 2015). Howell (2017) research with primary school students in Australia found that NAPLAN tests were construed as high stakes by students and associated with negative emotional responses such as anxiety, even though the policy intention is that such tests are low stakes for students. ...
Article
National testing of students has become an increasingly prevalent policy tool, often implemented to drive improvement through increased accountability and heightened competition between schools. Such testing has been found to generate negative emotional responses among students, including increased stress and anxiety . However, there is little examining whether such responses are associated specifically with national testing regimes or are more general responses to testing situations. This study surveyed 206 students in Australian secondary schools to compare responses to NAPLAN and internal school tests. Students reported higher expectations for their performance in internal school tests than for NAPLAN, higher levels of boredom for NAPLAN and greater levels of confidence for their internal school tests. While most students reported low levels of negative emotional responses to NAPLAN, a small group of students reported strong negative emotional responses to both NAPLAN and internal school tests, suggesting that negative responses to national testing programs may be more dependent on the individual student.
... In Australia, this imperative became clear with the establishment of the National Curriculum (National Curriculum Board, 2008). Higher levels of accountability were also implemented across the Australian states through introducing the National Assessment Program of Literacy and Numeracy, commonly known as NAPLAN tests (see Thompson, 2013). Then in 2015, the significance of education to the future prosperity of the nation was further underlined with all education ministers agreeing that from 1 July 2016 the Australian Government would initiate the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Teacher Education (LANTITE) (Australian Government, 2017). ...
... Both Au (2007) and Wiliam (2010) caution that under such pressure the curriculum is increasingly presented as discrete and disconnected. A narrowing of the curriculum, whereby less importance and time is provided to those subjects that fall outside of the testing regime has also been evidenced (Au, 2007;Rice et al., 2015;Roberts et al., 2019;Thompson, 2013). A greater emphasis being placed on teacher-centred pedagogies is also noted in the literature. ...
... Undoubtedly, NAPLAN testing has caused a raft of negative consequences for Australian teachers and students (Mayes & Howell, 2018;Wynne, 2016). This is evidenced in the predominantly negative feedback this single measure of academic attainment generates (Thompson, 2013;Wyn, 2014;Wynne, 2016). It has certainly failed (Schleicher, 2019) in "creating and sustaining a world-class, and even a world-best, schooling system" (National Curriculum Board, 2008, p2). ...
Article
Teachers have come under increased pressure to improve educational outcomes as Australia has sought to meet the challenges of competing on an international level. This intensified pressure has been accompanied by improved levels of funding, a National Curriculum for all Australian states, and territories, along with assessments to measure these key outcomes. However, this increased level of scrutiny has affected the pedagogical choices of teachers. Traditional modes of instruction have been reinforced, with teachers moving away from effective constructivist approaches to learning. This article will propose that a reinterpretation of constructivist theories of development is needed to arrest this decline, so that increased accountability measures, like NAPLAN, can be perceived as constructivist opportunities to build both core subject knowledge and broader 21st Century skills, such as resilience.
... Both NAPLAN and the national curriculum are overseen by the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (hereafter ACARA) . NAPLAN was positioned as essential for the promotion of quality education by ensuring increased accountability and transparency (Thompson, 2013). This is particularly in relation to the need to identify whether 'all students have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for their learning and for their productive and rewarding participation in the community' (ACARA, 2013). ...
... The intensifying focus on 'national goals, standards and benchmarking' (Spina, 2017, p. 87), and on driving up 'performance' and 'outputs' (Ball, 2015, p. 299), has led to forms of governance through numbers (Grek, 2009;Lawn, 2013;Ozga, 2009), reflective of increased attention to 'policy as numbers' (Lingard, 2011, p. 355). The high-stakes nature of such numbers in schools, also increased as a result of the public form of accountability through MySchool and the subsequent influx of media attention based on high-stakes NAPLAN data (Lingard et al., 2016b;Thompson, 2013). As a form of surveillance technology, MySchool lends itself to performative and comparative pressures (Gorur, 2016) and as such, results in schools desperately seeking to protect their reputational capital, with detrimental effects. ...
... Mental health promotion in schools is important and this paper highlights the need to ensure that all pathology is adequately addressed at the student level and not undermined by the fact that test anxiety could be considered a norm in the presence of testing and exams at school. From a socio-ecological perspective, there have been concerns raised from the literature that an increase in so called "high stakes" standardised testing could be causing the increased prevalence of test anxiety (McDonald, 2001;Locker & Cropley, 2004;Thompson, 2013). Thompson (2013) suggests that the TUR MAC DOM RUS THA BGR HKG QCH COL SVK LTU POL CZE SGP LVA PER TUN NZL CRI MEX AUS BRA SVN QAT ARE GBR MNE USA URY EST FRA JPN CHL IRL BEL TAP SWE HUN HRV FIN GRC PRT LUX DNK NLD KOR ISL NOR DEU CHE Journal of Child and Family Studies motivation behind publishing standardised testing data publicly, that is, to make teachers accountable for their quality of teaching, has created student and teacher stress and anxiety, and a decrease in student motivation. ...
... From a socio-ecological perspective, there have been concerns raised from the literature that an increase in so called "high stakes" standardised testing could be causing the increased prevalence of test anxiety (McDonald, 2001;Locker & Cropley, 2004;Thompson, 2013). Thompson (2013) suggests that the TUR MAC DOM RUS THA BGR HKG QCH COL SVK LTU POL CZE SGP LVA PER TUN NZL CRI MEX AUS BRA SVN QAT ARE GBR MNE USA URY EST FRA JPN CHL IRL BEL TAP SWE HUN HRV FIN GRC PRT LUX DNK NLD KOR ISL NOR DEU CHE Journal of Child and Family Studies motivation behind publishing standardised testing data publicly, that is, to make teachers accountable for their quality of teaching, has created student and teacher stress and anxiety, and a decrease in student motivation. ...
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Between the years of 2003–2015, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has identified a global trend signalling a decline in a sense of school belonging for secondary school students. Research has identified several factors that are positively related to school belonging, such as teacher support and academic motivation. However, little empirical research has been conducted to evaluate the relevant school belonging variables holistically and to assess their socio-ecological levels (e.g., student, microsystem, mesosystem) relative to the student. The purpose of this study is to assess the significant predictive variables within each socio-ecological level regarding school belonging. For this purpose, this study used data collected by PISA in 2015, focusing on data from 309,785 15-year-old students attending 12,668 schools in 52 countries around the world. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted to a) examine the empirical support for a layered structure of sense of school belonging, b) explore the contributions of variables in each layer of the socio-ecosystem to explain the variability in sense of school belonging and c) examine potential variations in this ability across schools and countries. The models provided support for the existence of such layers but also for some underlying relationships across the variables in the layers of the socio-ecosystem. The study then concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for school leaders, teachers and parents with respect to how school belonging approaches and strategies can be absorbed into existing practices and operations at school.
... Tests are administered on paper and online via the schools networked computers, usually outside of their regular classroom. At the time of the test, the child may be tired or well-rested, confident or apprehensive, anxious or calm, agitated or bored (see Thompson, 2013). Their performance will be affected by their complex unique selves shaped by their subjective life experiences. ...
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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