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Online assessment to support student learning

Computer adaptive tests targeted to students’ current skill levels should provide better information about their long-term literacy and numeracy development.

Computer adaptive testing recognises that learning occurs on a continuum and so provides a better basis for identifying starting points for personalised teaching and learning, ACER Chief Executive Prof Geoff Masters AO explains in Teacher.

‘The decision to move NAPLAN online provides an opportunity to place less emphasis on comparing the performances of schools and more emphasis on supporting student learning,’ Prof Masters observes.

A logical next step would be to uncouple NAPLAN tests and NAPLAN reporting from year levels entirely, Prof Masters proposes. ‘In other words, there would be no such thing as a “Year 3”, “Year 5”, “Year 7” or “Year 9” test. Instead, a student’s performance on NAPLAN tasks would result in a NAPLAN score as at present, together with a conclusion about the absolute proficiency level that the student had reached, regardless of their age or year level, for example, “Achieved Reading Band 8 and working towards Band 9”.

‘By foregrounding the NAPLAN score scale and proficiency bands, NAPLAN would model and promote a growth mindset in assessment – an approach that follows naturally from recognition that learning occurs on a continuum and that a single year-level test is inappropriate for most students. It would then be unnecessary to restrict NAPLAN testing to particular years of school,’ he concludes. ■

Read the full article:

‘NAPLAN – some thoughts’ by Geoff Masters is published in Teacher. https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/columnists/geoff-masters/shifting-the-focus-of-naplan

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