When the prospective test was first announced in early 2017, our Union raised concerns as to the potential for the test to erode the professionalism of teachers: particularly questioning if proper considerations had been made regarding teachers’ existing operations in the classroom, their current workloads, and their available resources.
According to the Department of Education and Training, the intention of the test is to be part of an early intervention strategy that would identify children who are behind in their schooling and ensure they are supported.
The assessment would occur as a one-on-one interview between teacher and child. The literacy test particularly would be based on the phonics screening check used in the UK since 2012.
The current proposal, however, seems to be unreliable in regard to its inception and the practicality of its implementation.
Teachers already assessing their students’ abilities
Year 1 teacher and IEUA-QNT member Sandie Wands said teachers are already conducting checks of their students’ abilities regarding phonics, sight words, writing and reading.
“There is no doubt that the assessments we already conduct are more telling of a student’s ability and progress.
“Our current assessments are synthesised over a period of time and through various means to form a complete picture of each child’s level of achievement.
“One of the most disturbing things about being part of the education system at this point in time is that policy makers have lost sight of the fact that we are dealing with human beings, and very tiny ones at that.
“Everybody performs better on some days than others and children are no different.
“They don’t like testing and it causes them a tremendous amount of stress.
“So many children – and teachers – are displaying signs of anxiety as they struggle to keep up with the demands of the Australian Curriculum and constant data collection.
“If you measure a plant every day of its life, it does not make it grow. It needs feeding and nurturing. Excessive assessment diminishes opportunities to teach and therefore learn,” Ms Wands said.