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Alan Jones celebrating his 80th birthday. Photo: Christian Gilles/ Freelance photographer

Alan Jones lambasts NAPLAN as ‘educational dross’

Sky News presenter and former teacher Alan Jones has launched a scathing attack on the National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), which commenced this week.

Approximately one million students across the country are participating in the test, which ends on Thursday, with up to 70 per cent of them taking the test online. 

Jones began the segment by questioning how much federal education minister Alan Tudge says about education — including NAPLAN — “is driven by bureaucratic advice”, which Jones said was often incorrect. 

“The argument that the anti-NAPLAN sentiments have been driven by teachers’ unions is convenient but flawed,” Jones said. 

The Sky News presenter then referred to the 47,000 letters sent out to teachers last Friday by The Queensland Teachers’ Union, arguing teachers should not make their students take the test. Jones then quoted education minister Alan Tudge’s response to NAPLAN concerns.

“The test is a normal part of the school year and not a cause for anxiety, and that the unions are trying to scare kids and parents,” Tudge said.

The federal education minister added that NAPLAN testing “is absolutely critical to tracking and improving student outcomes”.

But the former 2GB host continued to question the worthiness of the highly controversial test, which began in 2008. Jones cited PISA data to argue that both extra funding and tests like NAPLAN have not resulted in improvements — in fact, there has been a significant regression. 

“We used to be fourth in the world in reading, we’re now 16th,” he said.

“We used to be eighth in science, we’re now 17th. 

“We used to be 11th in maths, we’re now 29th.

“If NAPLAN is a diagnostic test, it seems the diagnosis is hopelessly wrong.”

Jones also questioned whether the test did anything to improve student engagement, as well as whether “the diagnostic” argument for the test resulted in extra funding. He also criticised the late release of NAPLAN results, which are made available five months after the student takes the test and are therefore of little value by the time students, teachers and parents can make sense of them. 

Among his list of complaints, which were various and also held by many education experts, Jones also mentioned the heightened stress levels that pervade NAPLAN testing time. 

“Children are even told ridiculous stories about how their performance will affect their ability to succeed in school and in life,” Jones said.

Jones called for a return to "chalk and talk", the teaching of grammar and great literature, as well as assessments that weren't standardised.

“Set a real diagnostic test — it’s called an exam.”

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