Technical glitches plague NAPLAN testing

Stock image.
Stock image.

WA Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery has issued a “blanket approval” for schools that experienced connectivity issues during NAPLAN Online testing to switch to paper tests for the remainder of the tests.

Schools from across the country suffered from connectivity problems as they sat online tests on day one of NAPLAN on Tuesday.

More than 400,000 NAPLAN tests nationwide were submitted on Wednesday, following 350,000 tests submitted on Tuesday.

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery.

Ms Ellery said 120,000 students from public and private schools took part in the writing test on Tuesday, with about 40,000 students “distressed” because of connectivity issues and unable to complete the test.

“It is not acceptable that year after year that we are advised technical issues have been fixed but it has not,” she said.

“The normal process each year is that we provide every school with a contingency plan, that is, they are all provided with the paper test.

“This morning, all schools have been issued with a blanket approval to proceed to use the paper test if they experience any difficulties using NAPLAN online today.

“They have also been instructed to only proceed with the writing part of the test and to go no further.”

She said the concept of online testing was beneficial for students to get their results back quicker and teachers to change their teaching to help students improve.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority said in a statement that Education Services Australia would continue to investigate the cause of connectivity issues.

“Overall feedback is that online testing has proceeded smoothly, with few connectivity issues experienced,” the statement read.

“Any inconvenience to schools and students during testing is regretted, and if technical issues are experienced in the coming days, there are procedures in place to manage them and ensure that all students are able to take the tests.

“This includes taking the test on paper as a last resort.

“The technology and logistics of a national online project of this size are highly complex, involving national testing authorities, states and territories and schools, and the cooperation and assistance of all involved is appreciated.

“Paper tests must be completed between Tuesday and Thursday, while the online test window is open between May 14-24.”

State School Teacher’s Union WA president Pat Byrne.

State School Teacher’s Union WA president Pat Byrne said the online test should be made “null and void” so it was fair for all students.

“We’ve had reports from schools to say that they have had up to 11 disruptions in a 45 minute test,” she said.

“For some students, that has meant a loss of up to 14 minutes of actual test time.

“We certainly don’t want any online testing progressed further until the glitches are resolved.

“But I think there are also issues beyond the glitches in respect of whether it is still a standardised test and to what extent the adaptive nature of the test actually negates that.”

A Catholic Education WA spokesman confirmed a number of catholic schools experienced technical issues during NAPLAN online tests.

“CEWA is liaising with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and will be assisting catholic schools affected to help minimise impacts on students, and ensure a satisfactory outcome is reached,” he said.

“Schools that have been affected will keep parents informed and may choose to suspend assessments for a day or choose to move to paper assessments with the approval of School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) if they are experiencing technical difficulties.”

NAPLAN testing runs from May 14 to 24.