Protogen is proud to announce our recent collaboration with The Australian in providing data insights and processing of Australia-wide learning and financial outcomes based on the NAPLAN dataset. These insights were recently featured as performance tables in a 16-page pull-out in The Australian newspaper and online in an interactive version.
Source: The front cover of the 16-page NAPLAN pull-out featured in The Australian's Saturday edition.
What is NAPLAN?
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 essential skills such as reading, writing, spelling and numeracy. The assessments are undertaken nationwide, every year.
What we found
The NAPLAN dataset has a number of great benefits while at the same time has some major challenges.
Some of the Benefits
- Longitudinal measurements of groups, based on the 2015 dataset published on the myschool website we now have 2 full cohorts across years 3,5,7 and 9 to compare
- Financial data over time, we now can compare year on year investments in education across the various categories of education and correlate them with academic performance
- Comparing internal individual assessment performance against external performance, on a small study we have shown that there are some students who are clearly assessed differently in the school assessments compared to the external assessments such as NAPLAN and ICAS.
Some of the Challenges
- Completeness of data, there is only a subset of schools that have a full data set across all years, year groups and subjects
- Quality of data, ACARA seems to be struggling with issues with data quality
- Usefulness of the data, the Myschool data has been shown to have limited value but groups such as Protogen and the Grattan institute are working on making this data more useful for schools, parents and students.
What others claim
Results from this years NAPLAN dataset show that despite record funding there has been no significant improvement in literacy and numeracy skills in Australian students.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham stated that results have plateaued “at a time of record and substantial growth in school funding”.
Since the Gonski reforms in 2013 there has been a 23 per cent increase in federal funding for schools. While some experts believe it will take time to see the full benefits of he funding, Mr Birmingham believes that improvements should still of been expected in this years results.
Mr Birmingham ensured that funding will still continue to be increased under the Coalition Government and that more funds will go to public, rather than private schools.
He believes it’s not just about the money spent but also about the types of reforms implemented of which recommendations include:
- Incentivising teachers to go to schools where they can make the greatest difference
- Ensuring there are minimum standards in place for future teaching graduates
- Intervening earlier when children are having learning difficulties.
What the opposition thinks
The spokeswoman for Labour education, Tanya Pilbersek agrees that the results are disappointing.
In response to being asked for an explanation on the plateauing of results despite the first few years of Labour’s Gonski funding model already being implemented she believes,
“The first years of the Gonski school education funding were important, but they were just a fraction of what we intended to do in our schools to life teacher quality, to invest more in individual students, to make sure kids who are falling behind in maths or reading were able to catch up, to make sure that kids who were gifted and talented were extended”.
“This is not a reflection of the implementation of the Gonski School funding arrangement. It’s a reflection of the fact that this Government has failed to fully implement a needs-based funding system”.
Would you pass the NAPLAN test?
So how would you go in the NAPLAN test? Try out your skills here with a sample of the numeracy questions provided by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA).
We will be publishing more from this analysis over the next few weeks and would love to hear if you have any specific questions on national, state, city or individual school performance.