NAPLAN, MySchool and Accountability: Teacher perceptions of the effects of testing


  • Greg Thompson, PhD Murdoch University


NAPLAN, My School, accountability, teacher perceptions, education policy


This paper explores Rizvi and Lingard’s (2010) idea of the “local
vernacular” of the global education policy trend of using high-stakes
testing to increase accountability and transparency, and by extension
quality, within schools and education systems in Australia. In the first
part of the paper a brief context of the policy trajectory of National
Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is given in
Australia. In the second part, empirical evidence drawn from a survey of
teachers in Western Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA) is used to
explore teacher perceptions of the impacts a high-stakes testing regime
is having on student learning, relationships with parents and pedagogy
in specific sites.
After the 2007 Australian Federal election, one of Labor’s policy
objectives was to deliver an “Education Revolution” designed to improve
both the equity and excellence in the Australian school system1 (Rudd
& Gillard, 2008). This reform agenda aims to “deliver real changes”
through: “raising the quality of teaching in our schools” and “improving
transparency and accountability of schools and school systems” (Rudd
& Gillard, 2008, p. 5). Central to this linking of accountability, the
transparency of schools and school systems and raising teaching quality
was the creation of a regime of testing (NAPLAN) that would generate
data about the attainment of basic literacy and numeracy skills by
students in Australian schools.