| 20.10,11. 12:56 AM |
Schools whiteanting Naplan results
October 20, 2011
WEAKER academic students are increasingly being withdrawn from national testing, helping to bolster schools' grade averages - and creating a new generation of kids likely to slip through the cracks.
The number of students sitting annual National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy tests has fallen in the past three years amid fears many absentees were poorly performing pupils who could bring down their school's scores.
But it could mean schools miss funding which may help them.
Participation numbers have fallen since scores were published on the My School website, with some schools accused of encouraging parents to keep less able children at home on test day.
Education chiefs now think falling participation rates will "skew the results" and jeopardise government funding which directs more aid to students and schools in need.
While NSW has the best Naplan participation record, education bosses believe falling numbers elsewhere could snowball.
Rows over Naplan testing
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli will ask the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for options on how to lift Naplan participation.
Data reveals Naplan absentees or withdrawals rise sharply when students reach Year 9.
Last year more than 5 per cent of NSW students in their third year at high school missed the national reading test.
And from Year 3 to Year 7 between 2.2 per cent and 3.4 per cent of students have failed to turn up for the reading test since 2008.
Teachers off the mark over Naplan testing
"I am very concerned by data showing that participation in Naplan has fallen nationally," Mr Piccoli said.
"More than one million school students sit these tests nationally and even small drops ... represent significant numbers of students.
"These tests are used as a diagnostic tool for schools and it is important for individual students that they do them."
Many schools qualify for reward payments if performance targets are met in the Naplan tests.
Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said as many students as possible should sit Naplan "so we know the data collected through the tests is solid and comparable".
"This year more than 95 per cent of students sat the exams across Australia which is a very high participation rate," he said.
"We've asked ACARA to look at this issue further and each state and territory will also report back."
The NSW Department of Education and Communities said it wanted the highest number of eligible students possible taking part in Naplan.
"There is a risk that parents or schools will think it is OK to withdraw," a spokeswoman said.
"We want to reinforce the importance of the information that is provided by these tests."