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NAPLAN: Some results to be released after a month, Ramadan begins

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) announced on Monday that schools will receive preliminary NAPLAN results earlier than ever this year.

Reading, language conventions, and numeracy results will be released four weeks after the final tests on March 25, in early Term 2.

This is eight weeks earlier than 2023, the first year the literacy and numeracy standardised tests were moved from May to March.

The writing component, which ACARA said takes longer to mark, will be released in June along with individual student report cards, and the national results will be published in August.

Practice literacy and numeracy tests are underway, with official testing to start on Wednesday.

Acting ACARA chief executive Stephen Gniel said the earlier results will give teachers a better opportunity to adjust their programs to student needs.

"Getting the results to schools sooner is a key benefit of having moved the assessment from May to March last year, as well as delivering the tests fully online," he said.

"It will help support schools in understanding where their students have performed well and areas for improvement, as well as shape teaching and learning programs."

Supporting Muslim students during Ramadan

Ramadan began on Monday, the date the new crescent moon was visible, and will overlap with this year's NAPLAN test dates.

Roughly a quarter of the world's population – or 1.9 billion people – are Muslim, and most observe fasting and spiritual discipline during Ramadan.

Most Muslim students from year 7 on will fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days, raising concerns about their ability to participate in NAPLAN.

A change in routine because of Ramadan can prove challenging for some students during exams, Dr Mohamad Abdalla, an expert in Islamic studies said.

"Scheduling can indeed be challenging for Muslim students observing Ramadan," Dr Abdalla said.

"Fasting can lead to decreased energy levels as the body adjusts to not receiving its regular intake of food and water throughout the day.

"This might affect a student's ability to concentrate, participate actively in physical education, and maintain consistent performance throughout the school day."

"Fasting can also have emotional and social implications, including feelings of isolation if peers are not fasting or increased stress due to managing the demands of fasting, schoolwork, and extracurricular activities," Dr Abdalla said.

Dehydration from not drinking water throughout the school day may also affect students.

Schools with Muslim students observing Ramadan can apply through ACARA to move NAPLAN tests to the beginning of the day, when energy levels are at their highest, and hunger levels are at their lowest.

Parents of Muslim students are also urged by ACARA to contact schools if they have any concerns.

"Proactive measures by teachers and educational institutions can significantly support these students," Dr Abdalla said.

"Schools can offer flexibility in scheduling NAPLAN exams to accommodate students observing Ramadan, such as providing alternative testing times or allowing students to take breaks during the test if needed.

"Additionally, schools can create a supportive and inclusive environment by raising awareness among staff and students about the significance of Ramadan and the potential challenges faced by fasting students."

Dr Abdalla is calling on schools to undertake culturally responsive pedagogy, which 'emphasises and respects students’ identities and backgrounds as meaningful sources for optimal learning’ and ‘embrace[s] and build on student identities and background as an asset for learning'.

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