Analysis of National Test Scores in Very Remote Australian Schools: Understanding the Results through a Different Lens

Analysis of National Test Scores in Very Remote Australian Schools: Understanding the Results through a Different Lens

John Guenther (Flinders University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7495-0.ch007
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Abstract

Based on the current research of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, this chapter presents an analysis of the 2012 Australian National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy data from very remote schools across Australia. The data support perceptions of apparent failure in remote education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The reasons for this failure are often attributed to disadvantage. In this chapter, the author proposes that the perceptions of failure are built on philosophical, sociological, economic, and psychological assumptions that may not be shared by those who are subjected to tests. It is therefore possible to critique remote education, not as a failure, but as a reflection of the values it embodies. That critique allows for different ways of understanding difference framed around the perspectives that come from the context of very remote schools.
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Literature Review

The initial focus of this chapter is on National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test scores and what they tell us about very remote schools. These tests are at times contentious as shown by a recent Australian Senate Inquiry (Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2014), which suggested that students with disabilities and those from non-English speaking backgrounds were disadvantaged by the tests. The literature examined in this chapter first considers the rationale and purpose of national testing in Australia. It then considers the various responses that have been initiated in recent years to address the disparities in the results of those tests between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australian students. Finally, the literature review moves from the pragmatic response to the philosophical and theoretical foundations of what is recognised in Australia as a ‘good education’.

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