Sectors unite to defend the profession

Parent groups, principal organisations and teacher unions united last December to advise the NSW Minister for Education of an unanimously held view in relation to NAPLAN moving online and robot marking. In an unprecedented manner, the following statement was agreed upon:

A statement to the NSW Minister for Education from the education community:

This meeting of parent, principal and teacher organisations from NSW independent, Catholic and public school sectors, calls on the NSW Minister for Education to be informed by our unanimous and firmly held position:

that the implementation of NAPLAN Online be delayed until at least 2020 so that the issues and concerns identified by parentsprincipals and teachers may be addressed over the next two years

that robot marking of student writing in NAPLAN not be implemented, either solely or in conjunction with teacher marking, in either a whole NAPLAN assessment or as part of a trial or partial NAPLAN assessment, and

due to the inequities and irregularities that arise from running two systems of NAPLAN testing it is proposed that the opt in provision for NAPLAN Online not be proceeded with as the results cannot be regarded as valid or reliable.

On 7 December 2017, NSW Minister Rob Stokes indicated in the Sydney Morning Herald that it is “preposterous” to suggest machines could do a better job than humans and described it as a “direct attack on the teaching profession”.

The SMH report went on to explain that Mr Stokes revealed his opposition to computer marking of writing tests ahead of the federal Education Council meeting when ministers would consider plans by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to introduce ‘robo-marking’ in 2018. That NSW has a firm cross sectoral opinion reflects the imperative to ensure that students and families do not have to contend with robotic marking of NAPLAN writing tasks. NAPLAN must be revisited as to its purpose and intent, and teacher professional judgement valued not submerged by online processes. The signatories to the statement will reconvene in February to further consider student assessment.

The signatories to the statement were:

NSW Parents Council

NSW Council of Catholic School Parents

NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Association

NSW Primary Principals Association

NSW Secondary Principals Council

Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia NSW/ACT Branch

Association of Catholic School Principals NSW Primary

Association of Catholic School Principals NSW Secondary

Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT

NSW Teachers Federation

Mark Northam
Assistant Secretary