The Federal government has blinked first in the Mexican standoff with teachers over their scheduled boycott of NAPLAN tests this week.
The Education Minister Julia Gillard made an offer to the Australian Education Union (AEU) for the formation of a team of experts that will provide advice on the use of student perfomance data and other indicators of school effectiveness.
This working party will also include representatives from the AEU. As a result, the Federal Executive of the Union today resolved to lift the moratorium on the administration of the NAPLAN tests.
The tests which are planned to be held nationally between May 11-13 measure the performance of students in years 3,5,7 and 9 on reading, writing, numeracy, spelling and punctuation.
“The working party will provide a way to advance and address the profession’s educational concerns relating to the misuse of student test data including school league tables,” AEU Federal Executive President Angelo Gavrielatos said.
“It will also provide an opportunity for teachers and principals to engage in a genuine dialogue with the government on a sound approach to school accountability and improving results,” he added.
The feud between the two sides stems from the AEU’s concerns over the creation and recent launch of the government’s My School website. Among other things the website publicises school NAPLAN results from across the country.
The teachers fear that this could lead to the creation of league tables.
The government dismisses the concerns arguing that it’s providing parents with more information and that it’s helping transparency and accountability in education.
“Our focus has always been on trying to ensure that data is not misused in ways that are damaging to students and schools,” Mr Gavrielatos said.
“The Minister for Education Julia Gillard today welcomed the decision by the Australian Education Union to drop their plans to boycott the NAPLAN tests,” was announced in a media release from her office. The same announcement explained that “the agreement follows discussions between the AEU and the Government.”