The Online Revolution of NAPLAN

NAPLAN this year starts its online revolution roll out! This roll out will occur over the next 3 years, until all testing is completed online. Not just completed online, also marked online. This is a massive undertaking to get every Australian child in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 to sit online testing at the same time. They have extended their NAPLAN time to occur over 2 weeks (i think) to allow schools to get testing of all students completed.

The roll out will take place over the next 3 years. Some schools will be completing the test online and some with pen and paper.

The benefits as stated on NAPLAN online ( include:

  • More precise results for better assessment- students will no be exposed to an “adaptive or tailored design” where the test automatically will adapt to the students’ performance and ask questions to match the students ability.
  • Faster Results- allowing school communities to respond to the testing faster.
  • More engaging- increasing student engagement with the testing.

Will everything run smooth and to plan? Probably not! Questions need to be asked about the validity of testing over the next 3 years if some students get adaptive testing and the rest sit the same tests.

Questions on the random generation of questions, validity of computer marking and accuracy of this and the security of the system need to be asked. ACARA has attempted to answer these questions, but this has not eliminated any concerns about the issue.

We are constantly getting students to think outside the box when writing essays. What is to say that a computer will not mark this accordingly. Can a computer pick up on emotion ? Different ways of writing the same text? Even though they are stating the essays will be double marked for the first lot of tests, once by a computer and once by a human, what is not to say there will still be inaccuracies?

Looking closely at the demonstration site

The one problem I have come across currently is students not being willing to read a text correctly. Not only when faced with paper, but with online tasks as well. We are teaching students to skim, skip words, guess contexts, guess meanings; but not how to read the text in its full form.

When given a multiple choice questionnaire, it doesn’t make a difference if it is online or on paper, students aren’t reading the questions slowly and carefully.

We are currently in a society where we are always in a hurry and I fear we are passing this onto our children. We don’t make the space to stop and thing, we just act and react. Although this is happening will all things, I fear that online is perpetuating this more so.

With the online testing, there is no place for students to work out on the test. They still need to do this on paper. Will students do this? Or are they going to just guess what the answer is and move on, like it is a game and they need to finish before the buzzer?

You cannot clearly see your lack of paragraphing on a page of writing online as the page just scrolls down. If you accidentally press delete and everything goes, what happens then? Has the system automatically saved the last point for you, or does it all just disappear?

Do we teach students to re-read their work when they are typing on the computer? Or do we just finish our work and press send or print?

The changes in the NAPLAN testing, I fear are highlighting all of these issues that we are currently creating as a society.

My concerns may not be presented as issues in the end…. but there is definitely room for skepticism with the online revolution for NAPLAN. It will be interesting to see how it pans out in the end.

Looking for the demonstration site?