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Should NAPLAN Test the 4C's as well as Literacy & Numeracy? 

Posted by Peter Barnes on September 16, 2015 at 2:28 PM

NAPLANEmeritus Professor Patrick Griffin, from the University of Melbourne says that NAPLAN should test more than just literacy & numeracy.

Speaking on The Learning Capacity Podcast, Professor Griffin commented on the NAPLAN 2015 results and said that the 4C's (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity), as well as collaborative problem solving, are essential skills that our students need to participate in the knowledge economy. And these should be tested by NAPLAN.

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With NAPLAN testing scheduled to go partly online in 2017, that would create an opportunity to widen the testing to the 4Cs, he suggested.

If you are a teacher or parent imagining that this would mean all students will have to do more tests, you should not worry. Professor Griffin's proposal would test more skills than literacy and numeracy, but at the same time fewer students would be tested. 

Sample testing, not universal testing

How is this possible?  

Professor Griffin explains: "In 2017, NAPLAN will be delivered online, at least in part. It seems to me that 2017 gives us an opportunity to think about (NAPLAN) again. I've been recommending that we don't test every kid in grades three, five, seven, and nine. We don't do every student in every school in Australia".

He recommends that we test a sample of students, just like the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test does. 

The advantages of sample testing, acccording to Professor Griffin, include:

  • Results will be available faster
  • Non-sampled schools could opt-in to take the NAPLAN tests if they wished
  • Teachers could be provided with materials to help address issues shown by the tests 
  • Easier implementation of targeted teaching as recommended by Dr Pete Goss's Grattan Institute report

Disruptive Change

NAPLAN going partly online in 2017, and the prospect to a move to sampling and testing the 4C's, would amount to a disruptive change to the education system. But Professor Griffin believes distruptive change is needed. 

"When you go for change and you go for disruptive change, you might not get the total change that you set out to achieve, but you'll get a residue. If you're trying to be subtle, smooth, do it on the quiet, often nothing happens.

"We can leave the education system alone and we can educate them for a factory-based economy or an industrial economy, but we really do have to find ways of educating our children to move from the factory to the office. And even more so, we need to help them move from the office to the internet as ways of earning a living and participating in society", he says on the podcast.

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Topics: School, Learning, Literacy, Maths, Podcasts, NAPLAN, For Principals

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