Naplan testing begins today for students in years 3,5,7 and 9. It’s good to see that schooling didn’t grind to a halt – life, learning and teaching does go on.
I was pleased to read Dr Judy Smeed’s comments in today’s Australian – finally a voice of reason in the whole Naplan/MySchool debate.
Dr Smeed, an educator at the Queensland University of Technology believes that the real disappointment of Naplan is that not enough teachers are taught how to analyse and use the results to improve their teaching.
According to Dr Smeed, QUT is the only university in Australia that trains teachers to understand educational data. This is a serious oversight of many teacher training institutions given what we know about the role of data/feedback in improving learning outcomes.
The fear around league tables is symptomatic of a simplistic understanding about educational data. No-one is pointing the finger – what we need is rational debate and greater understanding of what the data is telling us about a particular student at a particular point in time.
Companies like Facebook and Google depend on user data – it allows them to understand their users and develop tools that are ‘personalised’ and ‘targeted’.
If Google et al are using data to continually improve their service for users – then isn’t this what contemporary schooling should be about? ‘Targeted and personalised’ learning for every student.
And a final thought on this issue. Good teachers never teach to the test , as is so often claimed. Good teachers make sure that students understand what the test is but spend their precious time on making sure their students can think for themselves. They also use the data from such test to help inform their practice. To suggest otherwise only denigrates the work that they do.
What poor teachers do is another matter!