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UM-CoEDL ZOOM Seminar: Fair vs. Useful: Evaluating the fairness and validity of interpretations and uses of remote Aboriginal students’ NAPLaN reading test performances, Leonard Freeman, 27 Nov

University of Melbourne

Date: 27 November 2020

Seminar: Fair vs. Useful: Evaluating the fairness and validity of interpretations and uses of remote Aboriginal students’ NAPLaN reading test performances

Speaker: Leonard Freeman

When: 27 Nov 2020, 3.15pm-4.15pm (AEDT)

Where: via zoom - contact t.barratt@unimelb.edu.au for zoom link

Abstract: 

The data gathered from administering the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLaN) is one of the primary measures used by Australian policy makers, educators, parents and the wider community to make decisions about the educational outcomes of Australian school students. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) stated that ‘extensive processes’ have been put in place to ensure NAPLaN data is a ‘valid and reliable measure’ of literacy and numeracy skills for all Australian students. Despite ACARA’s assurances, concerns regarding the fairness and usefulness of using NAPLaN data to make decisions about the literacy achievements of remote Aboriginal students who are Standard Australian English language learners (ELLs) continue to grow in both the public discourse and academic literature.

The appropriateness of test score interpretations and uses depend upon the quality of a network inferences and assumptions which are inherent in the proposed score interpretation and use. In this presentation, data from the test performances of sixty-five Year 3 Aboriginal students from different language backgrounds and Kane’s (2013) Assessment Interpretation/Use argument framework are used to evaluate the fairness and validity of using NAPLaN data to make judgements in the culturally and linguistically diverse context of Australia’s Northern Territory. Statistical analyses investigate the relationship between students’ English language and literacy skills, working memory, school attendance rates and their NAPLaN reading test scores. Qualitative analyses of interviews with teachers and school leaders are presented to evaluate educators’ perspectives on the usefulness of NAPLaN as a measure of and for students’ learning.


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