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"Dodgy data and language misdiagnosis"


Date: 12 March 2015

Ingrid Piller:


ANU linguists Sally Dixon and Denise Angelo found that NAPLAN is not alone but that data held by schools about the language status of their students are generally ‘dodgy,’ nonsensical and illogical. In a survey of 86 schools in Queensland they discovered that only two out of these 86 schools felt reasonably confident that the language data they held about their students were accurate. In addition to the ‘LBOTE’ status of NAPLAN test takers, schools also recorded a ‘main language other than English’ on enrollment in forms that were variously filled in by parents or administrators as they saw fit. If ‘main language other than English’ was left blank on the enrollment form, ‘English’ was sometimes entered on transfer into the database instead of a null response. Some students also received ‘English as an additional language or dialect’ status. This category was variously assessed by teachers if and when students seemed to have problems and funding for additional English language support was available.

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  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University