A Melbourne principal has made the unusual decision to speak out publicly against Australia’s National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Kevin Pope, the principal of Meadow Heights Primary School, says the standardized testing for years 3, 5, 7, and 9 does not contribute positively to education: ”It dumbs down learning and narrows the curriculum. What about thinking, curiosity, music? Its narrow Anglo focus also means it’s not inclusive.’
Earlier this year, Education Minister Peter Garrett said NAPLAN was a powerful tool to inform government on how schools and students were performing, identifying areas needed additional support. Garrett said the $2.5 billion Smarter Schools National Partnerships provided targeted funding to boost teacher quality, improve literacy and numeracy, and provide extra support for disadvantaged schools.
Pope, however, says that in his 20 years as a principal in disadvantaged schools, he has never received one cent more based on the results of testing. Of the 620 students at Meadow Heights, 80% live in poverty, and 75% are from non-English-speaking backgrounds.