NAPLAN ban angers P&C groups

THE Australian Education Union (AEU) yesterday voted to ban the national literacy and numeracy tests in schools that are scheduled for May 11-13.

The ban has been condemned by the Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations.

Casino resident Karen Armstrong, who is secretary of the NSW P&C’s regional council, said the organisation supported NAPLAN testing.

But it opposed using the test results to supply data for the MySchool website, she said.

It was also ‘dead against’ the use of parents to oversee the testing, a suggestion made by Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard when the teachers’ union threatened its boycott.

“It is not a parent’s job to supervise tests,” Ms Armstrong said. “We believe the Rudd Government should be doing more to resolve the situation.”

Ms Armstrong said using data from the tests to rate a school’s performance gave a wholly inaccurate picture.

“The NSW P&C’s view is that although we support NAPLAN testing, we reject its use to create league tables,” she said.

“Public schools in the area did not fare well under the MySchool scheme, because it did not look at the big picture of what schools are doing to help their students.”

Ms Armstrong is the mother of four children, all of whom attended Casino High School.

Her son, Kyle, topped the State in engineering when he was at the school, which she credited to the quality of the education it offered.

AEU Federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said the decision meant the tests would not go ahead in May unless the Federal Government addressed teachers’ concerns about the misuse of student data to name and shame schools.

“Teachers cannot hand out the tests until something is done to stop the results being used to publicly brand students and schools as failures in league tables,” he said.

“That is damaging for students and school communities.”

Ms Gillard said the union had made the wrong decision, and urged teachers to administer the tests.

“The best teachers around the country are the teachers who are driven by the data and the information, and who believe it should be shared,” she said.

Ms Gillard said the Government would look at a range of options to have the tests supervised, including using parents, she said.

“One option very clearly on the table is for us to ask parents who have voted with their fingertips on MySchool to vote with their feet and to assist to manage the tests,” she said.

Industrial action by teachers to boycott the tests would likely be unprotected under most state systems, she said.

The NSW Government said it would go to the State’s industrial umpire over the teachers’ boycott.

“The Government will go to the Industrial Relations Commission if we need to ensure that teachers administer these tests,” Premier Kristina Keneally said yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the Education Minister Verity Firth, said: “Most teachers don’t support the ban and we would strongly encourage them not to take part.”

The AEU released independent polling ahead of yesterday’s meeting which showed the majority of public school parents believed a ban would be justified.

The national poll of 1000 people by Interconsult showed 54 per cent of parents with children in public schools supported a ban.

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