NAPLAN testing is today. This test is in English and uses English speakers’ world view as the means of assessment. This clearly puts Indigenous students at a disadvantage, many of whom do not speak English as a first language, and who live out of an Indigenous cultural world view. Will the Northern Territory Government continue to submit Indigenous students to this exam forever?
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. It is a pertinent question, as this week is NAPLAN week for schools across Australia. It is a federal initiative, not one of those things the Northern Territory Government controls. It is also tied to Commonwealth funding.
If we do not do NAPLAN testing we would probably not receive funding from the federal government, which is also pertinent, as the federal government introduces its budget. There has been a lot of talk about the amount of money going into education across Australia. The story in the Northern Territory is not that good.
I think we all agree that NAPLAN is a point-in-time test, and is probably is not the fairest measure for kids whose English is a second, third or fourth language. But it provides data for a heap of purposes.
That said, by Year 5, 7 and 9—the older years—we hope all our Territory can close the gap and achieve better results. It is a measure of how well our students are going in English. Over the years it has had a greater emphasis than it should have. To me, it is just another test. We should not put so much stress on our students in regard to that test. Children are tested regularly in school and NAPLAN is just another one of those.
Member for Nhulunbuy, I hear your concerns regarding Indigenous children. The same goes for children who are refugees and migrants as well.
I visited Yuendumu recently and they were looking at testing children in phonics using their own language of Warlpiri. I think over time things may change with NAPLAN, but it is a federal initiative, and most of our principals and schools should take the pressure off children and encourage them to simply do as well as they can.