ACARA’s Mea Semi-Culpa on NAPLAN

NAPLAN got going this week. Our daughter did it, so we’re told. Whatever. The pointless train runs another pointless lap. Except, this year the train apparently has had some scheduling issues.

A report in the Herald Sun (Murdoch, paywalled) notes an error in the “conventions of language tests”:*

An embarrassing error in the NAPLAN instructions for teachers may have caused some students to run out of time or rush to finish the national test. …

A script for teachers administering the test instructs them to tell students that ‘when your timer says 15 minutes, you should be close to finishing the spelling part of the test’.

“However, it should have said, ‘when your timer says 30 minutes,’ an ACARA spokesman said.

“The script correctly advises that students have 45 minutes to complete the spelling, punctuation and grammar sections of the test.”

So, it appears that ACARA gave count-up instructions for their countdown timers. The kind of mistake that anyone can make, and not the kind of mistake that should make its way into instructions for tests taken by a million or so school kids.

Did it matter? It’s possible that administrators and students cottoned on pretty quickly, and ACARA was keen to encourage this belief:

The spokesman said the suggested timing for movement through the spelling section is only indicative. “Teachers are best placed to prepare their students about the need to leave enough time to attempt the grammar and punctuation section,” he said.

Except, it ain’t your place to say that, mate. It’s your place to apologise on behalf of ACARA, to issue corrections and then to shut up.


*) “Conventions of language tests” presumably because referring to spelling and punctuation and grammar makes it sound too much like ACARA might test something of substance.

3 Replies to “ACARA’s Mea Semi-Culpa on NAPLAN”

  1. Having watched NAPLAN in action this year, I am amazed at the amount of work that has to go into preparing for the event. Because it is all online, a great deal of work goes into striving to ensure that it all goes smoothly.

      1. My son complained about this when it happened.

        And yes if you look at the tests it is spelling and grammar. Name could be better for sure.

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