STUDENTS at a Northern Rivers primary school were forced to re-sit exams after their principal was accused of interfering with the administration of NAPLAN tests, The Northern Star can reveal.
A parent from the school has told The Northern Star the principal is alleged to have coached Year 5 students on the NAPLAN language conventions test in 2010, with children having to re-sit assessments last term to make up for the invalid NAPLAN results.
The revelation comes as an official report reveals a number of substantiated incidents of cheating and security breaches by teachers during last year's national numeracy and literacy (NAPLAN) tests.
A Department of Education official has confirmed the department investigated allegations about how NAPLAN was administered at the Northern Rivers primary school and said "appropriate action" was taken, but would not reveal details of their investigation except to say the matter was now finalised.
The principal was not stood down from the position following the allegations, the official said, but remains on leave from the school and a relieving principal remains in place as school resumes next week.
"The relieving principal has strong community support," the official said.
Last term the School Education Director for the Wilson School Education Area, John Lynch, attended a meeting at the school called by the P&C to address staffing arrangements.
A new report, released by The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) this month, reveals details of a range of cheating and security breaches by teachers across Australia, including NSW principals.
The reported incidents included police being called in to investigate NAPLAN tests that went missing in one NSW school; cases where teachers provided assistance to students during tests, including a NSW principal found to have helped students complete a test.
The NSW Department of Education official would not say which NAPLAN breach incident listed in ACARA reports related specifically to the investigation into the Northern Rivers school principal.
Tests puts pressure on schools
TREVOR Cobbold, national convener of advocacy group: Save Our Schools, said that since NAPLAN results were published publicly on the My School website in 2010 there had been an increase in the number of instances where teachers are cheating on the tests.
"In Australia there is increased pressure on schools and teachers to be seen to be improving their results," he said.
"We've had several incidents since My School was first introduced in 2010, for example teachers suggesting answers to students; teachers opening the NAPLAN booklets before the test to coach students before the exam or in some cases teachers leaving spelling and numeracy charts up on the wall for students to refer to during the exam or encouraging poorly performing students not to turn up to school on the day of the NAPLAN test.
"I even know of one elite private school that starts coaching their kids from grade 1 for the grade 3 NAPLAN test.
"Ironically, publishing the results publicly and ranking schools in newspapers has the opposite effect on education by narrowing the curriculum taught and by creating these cheating situations."