Education and Employment Legislation Committee
20 November, 2013
Senator WRIGHT: Good morning, Mr Randall. I might just pick up on that last issue first briefly. I understand that ACARA has been considering ways to reduce the time taken to return NAPLAN results to school. I am interested to know, apart from online testing, are there other methods that you are considering? If so, what would the associated funding impact be? Would they be cost neutral or more or less expensive, apart from the online testing aspect?
Mr Randall: In my answer to Senator Ruston I said we have looked at those, but our focus has been mainly online—
Senator WRIGHT: I heard that. I am just wonder what those others might be.
Mr Randall: If you have a look at the current arrangements, from completion of tests, when young people finish the test, there is a period of about six weeks where they are completed, packaged up, sent back, the booklets are cut up and scanned and broken and distributed and marked, and they are brought back to the centre. There is a period of time of handling so that we get the datasets. There is another period of time of roughly five or six weeks where ACARA becomes more centrally involved around the central analysis of data. We are talking about a million students, five million test results and many more bits of data around each student, so there is a significant period there. Following that we take a sample of the data, get some key bits of information and return it to states and territories, the test administration authorities. They take that and prepare the reports for distribution to schools. In my head, I have roughly six, six, five. That is how I come to the 17. You could have a look in the first period and say, 'Are there ways that we could assist schools to package them up and get them back more quickly? Are there ways that we could tighten up the periods for marking, where some of the work is marked manually? Can you shorten that? Are there ways to shorten the central analysis of data? When you come to distribution of reports, are there other ways of doing it, including, instead of printing, distributing some online et cetera?' All the way through, there are various ways that you can do that.
Your question was about whether we have done any costs of those. No, we have not done that. We are aware of those, but we have not done that because, from our point of view, our efforts have been focusing on the move to online assessment.
Senator WRIGHT: When ACARA responded to questions on notice in the course of the recent Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of NAPLAN, it stated:
Simplistic league tables do not promote fair and balanced interpretation and representation of NAPLAN data.
In answers to questions on notice, ACARA stated:
ACARA has used the terms and conditions of the My School website to successfully challenge three commercial entities that published league tables using NAPLAN data.
Can you advise what entities were challenged and when this action occurred?
Mr Randall: I will take that on notice so I can give you the correct information about that. I am happy to do that, though.