The need for an expert review of NAPLAN is now more apparent than ever, and has been highlighted further by this year’s low-test scores in writing skills on account of testing problems.

The Independent Education Union of Australia called for an expert review of the national testing program, in a submission to the 2013 senate inquiry into The effectiveness of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy.

“The IEU is pleased that ‘some’ work will soon be undertaken in this regard, however we continue to hold concerns about the amount of teaching time spent in preparation for NAPLAN testing,” Federal Secretary Chris Watt said.

Mr Watt said additional matters required further attention including the value of NAPLAN as a diagnostic tool for teachers, the negative impact on schools of publishing results on the MySchool website, and the needs of students with a disability.

“A 2013 survey, completed by several thousand IEU members, revealed an increase in time used for test preparation, presumably at the expense of other classroom activity and very high levels of concern remained evident about the pressure of the testing regime on the school community despite the program being ‘well bedded’ into the Australian school system and calendar,” Mr Watt said.

“The survey also found that time spent in preparation had more than doubled to around 5-6 days allocated in primary school with over 3 days in high school.

“Of considerable concern, IEU member responses showed that fewer believe the NAPLAN test results are a useful diagnostic tool compared to 2010; only around one third said that the test results had been useful compared to almost one half three years earlier.”

The IEU encourages the Australian Government to undertake an urgent review of NAPLAN and the reporting of NAPLAN and ensure that all stakeholders and especially teacher experts are involved.

“Such a review should ask the fundamental question as to whether the testing regime has any validity and value.