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Inside Teaching : October 2010
www.atra.edu.au | email@example.com CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT 29 Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a good chance you’ve seen and heard words like assessment, testing, NAPLAN, which stands for the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, just in case you didn’t know, and My School. They come up a lot in our popular media, but in our profession they can distort discussion about student learning, and our practice. Like many teachers, I see shortcomings in the media- driven view that testing somehow improves learning just by itself, and so, like many teachers, I’m constantly striving to find ways to use test results – NAPLAN and others – meaningfully and sensibly. Back in 2009 I wrote a short article called ‘NAPLAN or napalm?’ about my school’s response to the publication of the first national test results, from which I developed a one- hour workshop for Victoria’s Teacher Learning Network and shared this innovative approach, focusing on the writing test, with other teachers. Response to the first NAPLAN results When the first NAPLAN results were distributed to schools in September 2008 we at Fitzroy High School, Melbourne, were shocked by what we saw as low results from Year 9 students we knew to be literate. We were able to identify several students who were writing above Level 5.50 of the state school curriculum – the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) – based on a thorough analysis of work samples, but whose NAPLAN test results put them around Level 4.50 – up to two years behind our own assessment. In meetings with the principal and the Year 9 team we progressed through several stages – denial, pain and guilt, anger and rationalisation of the ‘Yes, but...’ variety, until we began a level-headed examination of the actual documents from the NAPLAN Data Service. Using the full range of reports, from the school summary to the item analysis through to Turning NAPLAN to your advantage Using data to personalise learning