Watch the video or read the transcript from this event to find out what NAPLAN testing means for you and your child.
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Ashrina G: Good evening, special guests, ladies, and gentlemen. This evening’s forum is all about NAPLAN. Thanks to MacGregor State School for allowing us to host this important forum at their school.
Usually, a politician or a department head has the opportunity to MC big events like this, but I am not a politician or a high ranking public servant. My name is Ashrina, and I’m a local mother and teacher. I think that’s important, because when our local member Peter Russo asked me to MC tonight, he said that he wanted an event that was focused on the most important people in education: the students and their families. After all, we are all here tonight to talk about how we can work together to give every kid a flying start in life. That’s why we’ve brought in experts to talk to you about NAPLAN.
I now call on my local member, Peter Russo, to open this evening’s programme with a few words.
Peter Russo: I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today. Elders past, present, and emerging. Our key speakers and guests for this evening: Mr. Stephen O’Kane, Principal of the MacGregor State School, our host school; Ms. Wendy Neal, Principal of the Coopers Plains State School; Les Conroy, Principal of St. Thomas Moore College; Mrs. Sandy Scanes, Director of Teaching and Learning, Metropolitan Region; Ray Johnston, Assistant Regional Director, Secondary Schools, and all other principals.
Thank you for your support this evening in attending this education forum all about NAPLAN. One of the more enjoyable areas of my role is to visit schools in the electorate, and to see all the great work that the principals and their teaching staff are achieving in developing and educating your children. As a parent, I know too well the importance of educating our children and having access to good facilities. That is why I am proud to have secured funding for our local schools, as mentioned in the video. The sum of 8.7 million to fast track much needed improvements to MacGregor State High School for their new Industrial Design Centre, Sunnybank Special School for redevelopment and expansion, and Runcorn State High School for refurbishing the science labs.
I know that this really only a drop in the ocean, and I’m well aware that there are more needs to be met in our community. Tonight is about NAPLAN, and to provide information and background to NAPLAN, aiming to demystify it and encourage even better participation rates. Although I’ve been made aware that participation rates in my electorate are one of the highest. We are fortunate in this area to have schools and their leaders already achieving this extremely high participation rate. Queensland students have delivered the best NAPLAN results since the test was introduced in 2008. These results show the extra teachers that are being employed in the Queensland classrooms are making a difference. Our year three students ranked first in the country for grammar and punctuation for the first time ever, and we continue to improve in literacy and numeracy across all year levels.
All schools should be incredibly proud of their results. Like all states, we know more needs to be done in writing, and we are determined to improve. I understand we delivered a record 9.1 billion investment in our schools in the year’s budget. But we also know Labor’s education reform agenda is delivering for Queensland students. Labour drives universal access to kindergarten in Queensland, and Labor also introduced prep year in Queensland schools. And it was a Labor government that took the initiative to move year sevens to high school. This year, we have delivered extra teachers and teacher’s aides throughout the Queensland classrooms. We are providing new STEM professional development opportunities for teachers. Our NAPLAN schools this year underlined the huge gains we are making as a state in improvement. We know a defining core curriculum will give class time back to teachers to enable a deeper writing focus.
There is always more work to do and we will continue to invest in our schools to deliver the best outcomes for Queensland students. Thank you for attending, and I’m sure our speakers for this evening have some great information to share with you, and I will hand over to them. My federal member and friend, Mr. Graham Perrett, is unable to be with us but he has sent us this message. Before we play the message, can I also thank Peter Holloway, the IT Manager from MacGregor State School for his assistance yet again.
Graham Perrett: Good day. I’m your federal member of parliament, Graham Perrett. In a previous life, I was a lawyer, a bit like Peter Russo. But before that, I was actually a school teacher, a high school English teacher for 11 years. Also taught a bit of science, and a lot of geography, and a few other subjects. I taught children in the bush in far north Queensland, and on the Darling Downs, and here in Brisbane. I taught in private schools and in state schools. I have two children of my own attending school, one at a local Catholic high school, and my youngest boy is at a local state school.
I know the importance of education for every child, in every school in Moreton, and I know that needs-based funding is the key to achieving that. I know that children need individual attention targeted to their needs, so that students who are falling behind get the help and resources they need to catch up; and that the students who are gifted and talented get the help that they need to extend themselves. Labor believes that funding education for our students is vitally important for the future of Australia. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because economically, it makes sense. Investing in education will strengthen our economy, will improve our living standards, and ensure that all Australians are ready for the jobs of the future.
I will keep fighting to make sure that every child, in every school, has every opportunity to reach their educational potential. It is important for my family, and for all of the families in my electorate of Moreton, that we do the right thing by educating every child.
Peter Russo: I now would like to welcome Stephen O’Kane, Principal of MacGregor State School to address the audience.
Stephen O’Kane: Thanks Mr. Russo. And to everyone, welcome. To Sandy Scanes, Director of Teaching and Learning, Ray Johnston, Assistant Regional Director for Secondary Schooling, to Ken Howard, President of the P&C here at MacGregor, and to my colleagues from Thomas Moore, and to all principals here, welcome.
I’m really pleased to see parents here, wanting to learn and know about what we do, and how NAPLAN impacts on the student’s lives. On your children’s lives, and our student’s lives. As Peter said, and Graham Perrett said just a minute ago, in the fiercely competitive global community that we live in, now more than ever before we have to make sure that our students have a quality education. We have to provide so much for them. We have to provide, for them to be citizens of the future, they have to have knowledge, understanding, skills, and a firm grasp of values that are going to enable them to live and be successful people in the future.
Sadly, NAPLAN doesn’t test any of that. NAPLAN is just a test of aspects of literacy and numeracy. It is used, though, by governments, as a measure to check on effectiveness of school communities. To make sure that our young people are receiving the support that they need. As an accountability function, it ensures the resources that are directed from government are allocated in ways to enable all students to experience success. And I think it’s really, really important that we as educators, and you as parents, continue to lobby all levels of government, federal and state, to ensure that the funding that we get to support student learning continues, and is equitable for all schools.
NAPLAN’s just one piece of assessment that your children will sit. We have two forms of assessment in our school. We have what we call our summative assessment, and our formative assessment. Summit of Assessment finds out how much the students know. Formative assessment, as the name implies, is assessment that guides and supports student learning. In general, summative assessment has little impact on student growth. And NAPLAN, as a summative assessment, is just a point of time. It’s one day, it says, “On this day, this is what these students know.” It does little to guide the growth within the students.
And there’s little we really can do to prepare our students for a NAPLAN test. We can help them with understanding the type of test, we can help them with the style of questions they’re going to be asked and how to fill in the appropriate way on the exam. However, the students are going into NAPLAN without success criteria, not knowing what’s going to be assessed, not knowing how it’s going to be assessed. So when we as principals and teachers say to our students, “Give it your best shot,” in some ways, that is the best advice we can give to our students. Because quality teaching and learning will help them on the day. If we’re making sure that we have appropriate programmes, and the pedagogy or the way of teaching is supporting them, then they will be able to give it their best shot. But for us as principals, and for our staff and our teachers in our school, what we have to do is turn NAPLAN around to see how we can use it as a formative assessment tool.
So there’s many ways that we can take the data that comes from NAPLAN and help guide what happens in the school. We can use it to provide appropriate support to students that NAPLAN identifies is having weaknesses or strengths. However, I would like to say to any parent that if your school is relying on NAPLAN data to tell them whether their students are underachieving or experiencing difficulty, or need extension, then that school’s not doing a really great job in tracking your student progress. Because NAPLAN is just a tiny part of the assessment schedule within a school. We’ve got a plethora of data that we can have to talk about your children. The most important data that you’ve got is the A to E data, the data that comes out on the report card. And that tells you about how your child is achieving in every key learning area. And it’s what the teachers know and talk to the child about each day. It’s the data that you should know about, and it’s the data that you can go and talk to your teachers about regularly.
It’s so important. In a school we also have a whole range of other school-wide data sources, and every school gathers data in a different way. We have the PAT-A data, we have the PAT-M data some schools use the ICAS data, some schools use SAGE data, or … variety of data sources that give us a real understanding of where children are at. And then we can actually use the different sorts of data to triangulate and know, and verify, the accuracy of the data we have within our school.
So NAPLAN, when judged against the PAT-A data the school uses, or the A to E data, and we can see the fit, and say, “Okay, why is some of this data not aligning? What happened here, what happened there?” And start looking at ways that we can provide support. Old data should determine the differentiation strategies that should be happening in each classroom every day. We don’t need NAPLAN to tell us what should be happening in the classroom. Teachers know your children better than anybody else, and you won’t need, you shouldn’t need to see the NAPLAN report to know how well your data is. Just like high schools should not be using NAPLAN data to look at entrance into high schools.
A school report card should be giving a much more accurate picture of where children are at. It is so much more valuable and accurate tool. However, having said that, at the point in time in May, this is where your children were at. We can look at the data from individual student. We can go back and see the questions that your child missed on the exam, on the NAPLAN test, go back and have a look and see the way they answered that question. And then we’re really lucky that we have the access to say, “What was that question asking?” What part of the curriculum were we looking at when that question was there.
So when a student has a number of questions wrong that are asking around the same sort of data, we know, “Yes, we can provide support there.” We can look at those students as I said who require extension work. And sometimes students do do incredibly well on NAPLAN and hasn’t happened before. We then got to say, “Okay, let’s look at that data in comparison to their A to E, to their PAT-R, and sometimes it might be just lucky, they fluked it on the exam, and they were able to put … But, it’s still worth while having a look at. We as a school then look at our whole cohort, and look across the class to see where we performed better than we expected. Where’s the part of the data that we haven’t performed, and therefore, we go look at our school programming, we look at the way we’re teaching that to students, and we change and make effective change to support all students. We don’t teach to test, but we use the NAPLAN as a guide to improve the quality teaching strategies that we’ve put in place.
And as I said earlier on, our NAPLAN data will only improve when we have the highest standard of quality teaching and learning happening each and every day. That will be the real indicator of the success for your children. The best thing that you can do, to the parents, to help your children do well in NAPLAN, is make sure they’re at school every day. Make sure that they’re at school on time every day. Make sure that on the day of NAPLAN and the night before NAPLAN, they don’t go off and do a plethora of other activities. They have the night beforehand to have a good rest. Get up in the morning and have breakfast. A good breakfast, and we’re not talking, “You’ve got to do well at NAPLAN, you have to do well at NAPLAN, you won’t get into All Hallows, you won’t get into wherever because your NAPLAN data’s not right.” Calm it down, go give it your best shot. Because that’s all we can ask our students to do.
There is the value addedness that we need, every child should be progressing and making progress every year. So NAPLAN, because of the standardised test that it is, and that it is across year levels, it is across schools, it is across systems, we can say and with pride say, “Yes, our children are progressing.” We are adding value to your child, and we can show that, and your school should be able to talk to you about the value that’s added, and show you on the graphs, show you on the data, the changes being made. NAPLAN does have a purpose. But let’s put it in perspective. Think about everything your school already knows about your child’s progress, and NAPLAN is a tiny part of that. But it is a great part to help us make sure we are providing quality education.
Ashrina G: Thank you Mr. O’Kane. Please welcome Ms. Wendy Neal, Principal of Coopers Plains State School, to share her thoughts on NAPLAN.
Wendy Neal: Thank you. I said to Stephen I might as well just use his book, there’s only so much you can say about NAPLAN.
Again, it’s wonderful to see so many parents here. I think that is absolutely wonderful. Special extension to President of my P&C as well that’s here, and John, principal from Sunnybank Bank and other principals that are with us today. And the parents, just goes to show how important that this question is around NAPLAN.
As Stephen so eloquently put it, we can make a huge deal about NAPLAN. And as a principal, and as a system, it is a big deal because it’s one thing that we do use that is a measure that is consistent across schools, across systems, and across Australia. And that can’t be forgotten because that part is important. What NAPLAN does do is give us a good overall look at one set of data at a particular time. The most important data to me when I look at NAPLAN is improvement over time, improvement data. I think that’s something that NAPLAN can really give us a great look at, how we improve say from year 3 to 5, and then onwards from 5 to 7, 7 to 9. Seeing the growth in children’s learning. And that growth isn’t just dependent on NAPLAN, that is that we look very carefully when we get our results at where children do need that extra help, are we missing something in the curriculum, is there a way that we can teach differently?
Stephen mentioned that the most important thing about NAPLAN, the most important thing about education, is a child. It’s your child, it’s every single child, it’s where that child’s at. The second most important thing is the quality of the teaching and the quality of the learning opportunities given to that child. And that needs to be age appropriate for where they are at learning, and for the way in which we teach them, and that’s very important. And we can use that data to look at that, are we teaching children in the appropriate fashion for their age, for their stage of development? And that is extremely important.
All schools do have a raft of other data that they use, certainly A to E is very important. At Coopers, we don’t use PAT-M, we use that but we also use Fountas & Pinnell. And one of the fantastic things happening in the metro region, so I’ll give a little bit of a spiel for the metro region, is that we do get sent out for the metro region certain targets, they’re indicators. They’re indicators for when your child’s in prep, if your child’s in year one, if your child’s in year 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on, of if they will reach that minimum standard.
If they’re at a certain standard in different reading data, it’s an indicator that they’re going to make a national minimum standard, or as importantly, upper two bands, when we look at the children in that top end. So that kind of data is very important in backward tracking. And we’re looking at different ways, and different schools are working together at different ways that we can do that also with the numeracy data: a way of actually backtracking to give some indication of where that child may be, so therefore we can put in the interventions and the extensions and programmes in place for a child to reach their expected level of development age appropriate achievement, and teach them in the age appropriate way.
So NAPLAN is important. The most important thing for me when I get the NAPLAN report, the most important thing, there’s a report for each child. And instead of going straight to the data, I actually open every single report of my children, and the people that’ve already had children that have been in year three will have seen the data and straight away, there’s this lovely little graph with little dot. And you can see exactly where that child may sit. And I take my own personal notes on that, and then of course take it to our team. So we discuss where we’re sitting as a school, but more importantly, what each single child and individual child, how they tracked with that. Does that align with their other data? As Stephen said, you can sometimes see some great surprises, where a child with A to E which may not be maybe seen below, suddenly scores very well in NAPLAN.
And so you have to really look and say, “Why? What other things can I look at to give an indication of where that child is really sitting?” So, I guess the most important. thing about NAPLAN is we don’t get all hit up about it. In fact, the children at Coopers Plains are excited about NAPLAN, they’re always excited about NAPLAN. They get really quite worked up about it. They actually like sitting there quietly, doing the best they can do, and being encouraged to do so. I think that teachers can sometimes get stressed, and I think principals can sometimes get stressed, I know parents get stressed. Best advice Stephen has given, as well as the same advice I’d give you: It is a normal school day.
If we have taught the Australian curriculum well, and we have had age appropriate and very perfectly designed teaching programmes and quality of teaching, your child will do the very, very best they can in NAPLAN. And that’s all that we can ask. We want your child to be the best that they can be. They don’t have to be in the upper two bands. What they need to do is improve. A year’s progress in a year is what we want for each child, and we use all of those pieces of data to be able to help each child do that on a very individual basis.
So when that report comes, I look at that, and then the most exciting is as a staff, we sit down and we look at which questions have our kids not hit the mark on? Why is it that that one child knows that little bit of data, but no one else seems to know it? Why is it that all the children know this, and there’s three children that just don’t understand that? Is there a pattern to that? Is it to do with inferential comprehension? Is it to do with literal comprehension? Those things are very important, and as Stephen mentioned, different kinds of assessment, but we must always keep in mind that assessment is assessment of learning, but more importantly it’s assessment for learning. It’s what we do with the assessment, whether it be NAPLAN or our school based assessment, it’s what we do with that to improve the learning outcomes for each and every one of our children.
So please take a breath, relax, at the end I know there’s time for questions, which we’re more than happy to answer or to give you some more information. So thank you very much for coming, for showing an interest in your child’s education. You make the difference, it’s a partnership between parents and schools, and schools working together. And it is about NAPLAN, it is about, you can see the number of principals that are here, either speaking or just coming because we as principals work together to achieve the best quality outcome so all the children in our system and in the state of Queensland. So thank you.
Ashrina G: Thank you Ms. Neal. Our final school based principal is Mr. Les Conroy. He’s the principal of St. Thomas Moore College, to provide a secondary perspective on NAPLAN.
Les Conroy: Just to break it up, there’s a bit of a PowerPoint as well so you don’t always have to be looking this way, or even listening if you don’t want to. Just the bylines, just to save everyone in the audience. But no it is wonderful, and I want to acknowledge Peter for bringing this forum together because we talk about NAPLAN almost on a daily basis with our parents when they come to school, and it does worry them and it does concern them, just as it does teachers and as it does principals.
But I suppose … And it’s wonderful to hear the message that’s coming through, the key theme, that NAPLAN is not the high stakes test, and it should not be a high stake test. And we certainly hope we don’t treat it like that. Because I think when we start treating it as the be all and end all, that’s when start losing sight of the bigger picture of how we educate the whole child. And I think it was even n Sharratt today who’s an educational researcher, tweeted that, “You’re not going to find quality teaching in a standardised test. It comes in other ways with other measures.” And that’s what we’re going to talk to you tonight about, both myself and Nathan Camilleri.
So to give you an idea, data … Don’t get me wrong, data is very important. It informs our decision making. But what it is, it’s one piece of the puzzle, and that’s what NAPLAN provides us, is just that one piece. We overlay that with other data to inform us about our learners and who’s in front of us, and make decisions about how we actually teach in the classroom. It builds a bigger picture. The other part, as part of our management, is we don’t particularly prepare the students for the test as far as curriculum. We’re not teaching them the test, but what we are teaching them is skills in the test. About how to actually, for want for a better word, sit down and actually answer a multiple choice decision making processes they might put behind that. And even just sitting down for a quieter period of time, in a room, in a formal setting, completing a test, has to be taught. We call that test preparedness. We do that, and I’m sure our colleagues also do that, because it’s very important to actually train students, because it’s not a natural thing to do. And so we train the students for that. But the actual curriculum, and what they learn, happens in the classroom every day.
So just to give you an idea, Nathan is going to talk about how we actually use the data., and give you some insights as to what we actually do in a practical sense when we have staff meetings and with our staff and the talk that happens in the classrooms. But things have changed for us. What we’ve recognised in schools is that data actually is very critical to our decision making. And so critical that we’ve actually created a position within the school of a programme leader, of someone who can help staff unpack the data that’s put in front of them. Because there’s an enormous amount of information that’s available to staff, to parents, to everyone. And some staff get a little bit concerned about, “Well I’ve got this data sitting in front of me, but what do I do with it?” And that’s where Nathan comes in. He actually sits with staff and helps them unpack the data that’s in front of them, so they can then make their informed decisions, and train, and build capacity.
So again, NAPLAN is just a point in time. It’s a snapshot. And that’s what we want, and we overlay that with other data. We do test readiness, we develop those skills from the cohort, based on the data we collect, and so for us to give you a bit of an idea, one of the things that we looked at was reading was a bit of an issue for our students coming into the lower part of the secondary school. Because the NAPLAN data from the primary school, when we asked for it at enrolment, and in our system we get the longitudinal data, coming through if they’re from Catholic schools, we actually have access to the data already within our system through what we call our business intelligence tool. And so we can look to see where the students’ particular strengths and weaknesses are of a particular cohort.
And one of the things that again, Sharatt talks about is, “What’s good or essential for one, is good for all.” And so you can look for patterns within that data that can actually help inform what the focus area perhaps could be for that cohort. And for this particular cohort, it’s around reading, and reading comprehension. So that’s what we’re focusing on, as well as all the other things we do every day. And that’s why we go home tired and look forward to our 12 weeks a year holiday. The other thing we do is we put up what they call a smart goal, so that’s small, smart, measurable gull, which we benchmark ourselves at, to try and prove because what we want is growth for our students. And that’s what you want for parents, you want to see a progression in growth. So the student may be a D today, we plan for them to be a C, a B, and then an A.
But it’s also very important, what some of this data Nathan’s going to show, is that particularly some students may be in the A range, or in the top two bands, and they actually don’t progress because they sometimes get neglected up there because we’re worried about what’s happening at the lower two bands. And so some of that data also gets exposed in this, because it shows that whilst the student’s up there, they’re actually not progressing. And so we can focus on them as well, to move them and progress them forward.
One of the things that we like, and we talk about the use of data in conjunction with others, is that we overlay the data. Again, we’re looking for those anomalies, I know that you talked about, and that’s what we want to look for in our students. And if you would just focus on the NAPLAN, you could get a false positive if you know what I mean. A student may do particularly well on that particular day, or do very poorly on that day, and they might be judged like, “Hey, they’ve got a deficit.” Well that might not be the case. There might be all sorts of other things going on in that student’s life that they didn’t perform well on that particular day, and so that’s why we don’t use it as the high stakes, be all and end all data.
The other thing that we do is we combine it with what we call the JET. So when students get to year 10, they get to do what they call a senior education training plan. All students across the state do it, I think it was an initiative of the state government about 12 years ago, I think the set plans came in. And it’s brilliant. It actually sits down and maps out the end of year 10, 11, and 12. We’ve taken that back to year seven, and we actually help the students based on their data and we expose their data to them as well, so they get to read it, understand it, and know their strengths and weaknesses. So we make it quite visible to them, and they we develop an educational plan so they can take through to year 10, and we call it a JET- so that’s a Junior Education Training Plan. And so we use data to inform their decision making, the parents decision making, and hopefully engage them in the learning in the classroom.
That’s it for me from the management part. I’ll hand it over to Nathan, he’ll talk about the practical. These are the conversations that we have in the staff room.
Nathan C: Thanks Les. A lot of what I’m about to go through has actually already been covered, so some parts will sound very similar. And it’s probably good, we’ve got a few colours up here you can have a look at as well. So that might keep people interested.
Essentially our role, when we’re looking at NAPLAN data, is we use it as a tool. That’s essentially where we see it. We use that as part of what we try to do in putting together a student profile, a student learning profile. So we have a look at our NAPLAN data, you can see the quadrants that are up there. And we have a few sitting in that pink region, which is the kids that are underachieving to a point based on the national data. And then we have a look at those kids and who might be sitting a little bit below where they should be. So we use that data, that’s part of what we have. We also then have a look at their report data, and how that’s also going to contribute to that learning profile. For each student then we can have a look at their historical results, and a lot of it, you can see in that particular frame, and we can also then use that as longitudinal data, or historical data which is a lot easier to read.
The left hand graft which is given to us is that longitudinal information. The pie on the right there is looking at it as a whole cohort, as far as the NAPLAN results go. And where they’re sitting with the line of best fit, which is the national benchmark at that particular time. And every little dot there is a student, and we can hover over that and see where they’re sitting at that particular time, and how it is that they might be then looking at in correlation to their report data. Also using some of that PET data that gets used, but then looking at that reading and comprehension data as well, and also looking at some of their writing tasks. So we try to use that, NAPLAN is one tool or one part, I guess, in constructing that learner profile that we use. From there then, we start thinking about our data management. And data is more about that particular student, and who is that kid? What results have they got so far? And are they actually attaining to the point where they should be attaining?
And like I said before, the NAPLAN data is one part to that. So when we’re starting to put that together, and how we’re thinking about that, we then start using that as a staff point of conversation. And we have a look at our data sets, or the way that we look at data, in three particular ways.
So our first part there is being data activated. Being data activated basically means there are collaborative decisions being made my particular departments. They could be school wide decisions as well for a particular cohort, in a way that we might then be able to structure our curriculum in order to be able to benefit that cohort or that student in a much better way than what we possibly have done in the past. We’re lucky in that our data is from year 3, year 5, year 7, and year 9, at certain times. Which means that we have quite a bit there that we can actually draw upon. For us, particularly for students that have come out of a Catholic school in primary, we also have the Catholic report data in there, and we have a number of those bits of information as well when students come in as part of their admission.
So we can use that, and part of that data then or those data sets, essentially put together our curriculum itineraries. So we can start looking at what’s going to happen in that particular year group, and how is it that we’re going to change what we do, and the way that we teach, to those students so that they’re actually learning a lot better. And it’s not so much that learning from assessment or learning for assessment, but we’re actually getting them in the classroom and helping them to understand at that point, and then obviously revisiting those skills as we’re working our way through so obviously at the end point, that we’re getting better results than what we may have previously had.
We also then look at being data informed. And that’s where we’re at at the moment in our college. So I was looking at again, those educational conversations about, “What is the pedagogy?” Or what is the understanding around at this point in time, and what is the best way that we can actually deliver to our students. Part of that is that, “read, reflect, and then act,” idea. So we’re having a look at what is there, what information do we have? What is it that may need to be changed? And how is that we can use best practise in order for our better results to happen in the end? We do obviously take calculated risks in there. But they are calculated risks, they are times where we’d be looking at some of that data, having a look at different ways of possibly delivering, and then obviously seeing what the end results are, and if that’s worked.
The last of our frameworks that we work within, are what’s known as being data orientated. So it’s looking not just at the educational data that we have with the results through NAPLAN or through PED or through report data and that sort of thing, but it’s also then having a look at the partial issues that might be happening for that child. Understanding if there’s other private stories that might be around that particular learner, and how it is that we might be able to value add to their educational experience.
So the whole idea is that we’ve put together what’s called a data wall. Now the data wall itself is a living document. And at the school at the moment, we are going through five different steps to be able to create or to work out ways that we can give value to our learners, I guess, so they have a better understanding of what we’re trying to do, and the way we’re trying to layer a lot of that information together. You can read the five steps up there, but essentially it starts off with professional conversations that are held together by staff. We have a look at ways we might be able to best value add to our students, based on the knowledge that we have of our staff.
From that point, we then go to what’s called the co-construction of the data wall, in that we have all staff that are contributing to that data wall itself, and the way that it’s going to be put together, and I’ll show you what that looks like in just a moment.
Having a look at our review and response. What have we done? Has it worked? What might we need to then change? And what data sort of reflects some of that change as well? And at this point in time we’ve sort of moved on I guess from NAPLAN. It’s still there as a tool, it’s still there to inform us, but it’s not the whole story at this point in time. From there then we’re going back to our professional conversations from the review, and then we’re looking at ways we might be able to then change, and adapt to what we already do, and then obviously we have a look at that evidence based change that comes out of that as well.
From there, we put together what’s called a place mat for a particular student. Now, clearly we don’t have Justin Bieber at our school, but there is an example anyway. So you would see up at the top there what we call SRS, which is our report data. That is left blank at this point in time. Teachers are adding to that as they get their results. So after each piece of assessment, they may come in, they may change that, so that we can then see that we’ve got the fullest and latest information for those particular students. This is not limited to, but usually for the students that we see that are at risk at this point. But change is obviously as students come on and off the wall with their place mats.
We also have their NAPLAN data in there. It’s not actually put in as a percentage or a number, it’s just put in as a colour code. So we can see at this point in time, they may not be at the stage that we’re hoping they would be with national standards and that sort of thing. Particularly for students that are coming in year seven and do their first test, then we have a look again when they come in at year nine, see where they are in that point in time, and obviously things are going to be changed for those particular students. And that’s across the board for all of our students, that we put that data up.
We also then have a PAT-R testing with the comprehension and so forth. We do use that I guess, as an indicator on improvement and so forth. They obviously start out with a benchmark score, and they we hope obviously or we work towards, getting them to improve on that score from year to year, and every student does that in every year whilst they’re at the college. We also have partial concerns which added, so that’s that last dimension that I mentioned with looking at data outside of just our usual figures and so forth. We’re also then looking at any other learning support information that might need to be added in there as well.
Part of the professional conversations which you’re seeing there, which are still drawing on those other points, those numbers and so forth, are the obstacles, strategies, and outcomes, which are columns added in there as well. So teachers can then write little notes on there about how a student is going, strategies that they’ve used that may help to improve that particular student in whatever area they may have identified at that time, and outcomes as to, “This has been improved, we’ve seen improvement,” even in organisation and so forth as well. So it gives a bit of an overall snapshot of that particular learner. And on the left hand side, we have a look at their improvement, in their results and also with their engagement in class, and how that they progresses over the year as well.
Les Conroy: So the summary that we want to give the picture from here, and hopefully you’ve seen it as current theme across all three schools, is NAPLAN is one piece of the data, one piece of the story, that tells us about how that child is going. And it’s not the high stakes, so I’d like to reinforce what my colleagues have said, you know, do your best on that particular day, try your hardest, but it’s not the be all and end all, it’s just one snapshot, one day, one look at a point in time. Thank you.
Ashrina G: Thank you to our local principals for sharing their insights. We will now move into our panel discussion, so I’ll invite our team from our regional office to come up to the stage as well. I’d like to introduce to you Ray Johnston and Sandy Scanes, and they’ll join our principals up here as part of our panel. We’ve got a roving mic, so if you do have any questions just put your hand up and Jennifer will come to you with the mic. Thank you.
Speaker 8: I’m guessing this might be directed towards Sandy. If I understand your role, you’re looking at, “How do you train teachers?” NAPLAN’s been around maybe for a decade. How has that impacted teacher training and teacher development in the state?
And I’m the President of the P&C here, what should I be thinking about in terms of engaging with the school and expectations around teacher professional development?
Speaker 9: Thank you very much. With regard to the teacher professional development, within the concept of the fact that our teachers come to training in schools, obviously we’re focused on the work that’s happening in our schools throughout the year. So Peter, I’ll take the second part of your question if I may. The second part is around what do you need to be thinking about, what do the teachers need to be thinking about, around being prepared from NAPLAN?
We’ve heard from our colleagues tonight that NAPLAN is really about being very skilled in understanding the Australian curriculum. So it’s really important that our students are working with our teachers to understand and learn each of the learning areas of English, Maths, Science, History, Technologies, Health and Physical Education, Languages, all of those subjects that the students come to school to learn all have the components of literacy and numeracy in them. So the best thing that you can do for your students, and the best thing that we as professionals do for our teachers, is to build teacher capacity in their knowledge and understanding of how to deliver and implement the Australian curriculum. Sitting across those learning areas, as I said, are the literacy and numeracy demands that again we actually support our teachers in understanding how literacy sits within, let’s say for example Science. What are the literacies of science, and how do I actually teach my students so that they can engage with the curriculum through those literacies? Similarly, what are the numeracies in science, and what do I need to do not to just teach the knowledge of science, but to teach the literacies and numeracies.
So that’s the work that’s undertaken by our teaching staff to ensure that they’re preparing students to the best of their ability to achieve at NAPLAN. Thank you.
Speaker 10: While we’re waiting for the next question, I’ve got a question, and that is: What’s happening to NAPLAN online? I saw that we were already to go and then it all stopped.
Stephen O’Kane: I’ll take that one, given that we’re getting ready to be a trial school for NAPLAN. It has been put on hold, and it’s not only Queensland that’s done it, every state has now followed suit with putting the whole trial on hold. The problem being … I was talking to my wife around this over the weekend. We go to Westpac Bank and we look at the bank, and they have a standard operating system. Every teller using exactly the same machine. Go into schools and you’ll see a plethora of platforms being used. You’ll see a plethora of age of computers, it’s just not feasible to get it all going. It’s a good idea, and it will change the way NAPLAN works, but we’ll be ready for 2019 to have a go at it now. Okay?
Katrina: Good evening. Is it appropriate to use your NAPLAN data, say you’re assisting your child from 3 to 5, 5 to 7, 7 to 9, as a way to measure their growth and use that, what you’ve read on the NAPLAN data to come back at your teachers and say, “I feel like my child’s not progressing, what are you doing to help them?”
Wendy Neal: Yeah it’s very important. It’s very important Katrina. The way that I think the NAPLAN data should be used is to be having a look at, because it is consistent, is to have a look at, as I said, growth. A child’s growth is the most important thing, growth between 3 and 5, growth from the early start data that we start with to year three, NAPLAN data from year three, NAPLAN data to year five, of those individual children, to go back and say, “Well, you know my child isn’t still improving, what could be happening there?” And for a school to look at that is really important. And I think that’s one of the most important pieces of data that can come from NAPLAN to be honest. And very good question to go back and ask teachers or the school about that area.
Speaker 12: If I can just add, and I think Stephen talked about this in his address, I wouldn’t just use that two years apart data. Stephen talked about being very au fait you and your child’s teachers in partnership, using all sorts of information about your child to ascertain whether they’ve grown in learning. So maybe they’ve been a C, a C, a C. That might be okay for your child if you can tell they’re trying their absolute best, but if it’s C, C, and suddenly go to a D, on a semester report as opposed to a NAPLAN report, that’s another time to have a conversation in partnership with your child’s teacher.
Speaker 13: Hello. I’d just like to know about children with disability. How do they participate in NAPLAN?
Stephen O’Kane: At the very start, Peter said he was very proud of the fact, the participation rates of students within NAPLAN within this electorate. And I think every school should be trying to encourage all students to participate in NAPLAN. Some children who have intellectual impairment can be exempt from the test. All students who sit the test and have a learning difficulty or some other impairment that is effecting their learning can have extra support for the test. Again, it comes back to knowing the student, and knowing what they can do? So a student who has a disorder or ASD and it increases their stress levels, we can provide support for them and do things, just like we do every day in the classroom. We differentiate each and every day in each lesson. We can differentiate when they’re sitting for the NAPLAN test. But I would encourage all families to ensure all children, if possible, sit for NAPLAN. Again, it comes back … The data is there, it’s about your child, where they are at that point in time only. So yeah, it’s open for everybody.
Les Conroy: Can I just add to that? One of the things where data has all of a sudden improved in some schools around particularly NAPLAN, can be that concern around voluntarily exempting some students, or asking them not to turn up on that particular day. Now I think I’m in alignment with my colleagues, it’s about all students turning up, because you want to have a warts and all look at where your school is at, where your students are at, so you can actually plan for a progressive future for those students. And I think when we make a test high stakes, that’s when you have that sort of, shenanigans if you like, going on, where schools will say, “No, stay at home that day,” because they want to hide the data. When I’m looking at schools, and I do comparisons amongst other schools to see how we’re going as a school, I look at the participation rates of the students. And that tells me immediately about the philosophy of that school, and what they think about their students. So when I look at schools that have very low participation rates, I’ve got to sit there and question their motivation behind their improved NAPLAN results, because I think it should be a warts and all look at the school. Thanks.
Speaker 14: Hi, it’s probably more for my understanding on NAPLAN. So I understand that it’s held in years 3, 5, 7, and 9. So how was this decided in terms of a test being held every two years? Is there talks about trying to do one earlier to be able to have that baseline earlier, and being able to help the students improve better? Was there a reason around why it’s not held later, for example, year 11, ect? Just for my understanding. Thanks.
Stephen O’Kane: It’s part of the Melbourne Convention, where we looked at where the federal government joined with government ministers around Australia, and said, “This is what we believe around education within Australia.” It’s also how will we judge the effectiveness of our education, it’s decided … Originally it was 3, 5, and 7, because they’re just in the primary years. Year 9 was eventually added on. It doesn’t take 11 and 12 because 11 and 12 comes post and becomes the secondary schooling, and looks then at how the students progressing towards getting their exit certificate from school. So it’s really about those 10 years where all students are doing the Australian curriculum, and all subjects within the Australian curriculum. When they go post, from that style of education, you’re looking at from … Thomas Moore could talk better at that, but looking at the subjects the students are selecting for themselves in year 11 and 12.
Les Conroy: I think originally back in the dark days of original NAPLAN, if I was right, you’ve got money attached to students who meet a particular standard, and I think they felt we then had to justify how that money was being used in secondary schools, based on the year 3, 5, and 7 testing. But that was in the very early days. That very quickly changed, because I think it was also a bit of about, if you like, giving that accelerated push to schools to use data to inform teaching and learning. And I think that also fed into the story. And then when it came into year 9, it certainly did change the way we looked at our students, and it gave us yet another piece of information to use to inform our learning. And then of course, year 11 and 12 is post-compulsory years, and then of course that’s all very much prescribed through the QCAA.