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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 May 2010) . . Page.. 1682 ..


week or the week after, if needed. The Australian Education Union have stated that they do not support teachers supervising the tests. What contingency plans have you put in place if some or all teachers are not willing to supervise the tests?

MR BARR: At this stage, it is hypothetical to suggest that teachers will not be supervising the tests. We, like all other Australian governments, have sought an order through the various industrial relations commissions to have what is, in fact, unprotected industrial action deemed to be that. I can advise the Assembly that Fair Work Australia, through Commissioner Deegan, has indeed made that ruling in relation to the ACT, the Northern Territory and, I understand, Victoria, and that the various state industrial relations commissions elsewhere in the country have also made similar rulings.

It is the government’s advice at this stage that the vast majority of schools are fully prepared for NAPLAN testing next week. In the context of the ACT, it is worth noting that we have a very small number of test sites as opposed to larger jurisdictions, in that our early childhood schools and our colleges do not participate in NAPLAN testing, so that reduces the number of test sites in the territory to around 70. We believe that, through the combination of preparation within schools and available staff within the Department of Education and Training and our team of exam supervisors, we will be able to comfortably conduct the NAPLAN testing in ACT public schools.

It is, of course, noting that this issue does not arise in Catholic and independent schools, as the unions in that particular sector have taken a more responsible approach than the Australian Education Union. But there is still time for the Australian Education Union to withdraw their threat of a boycott of the national testing. Testing is important for students. It is highly valued by parents and it will provide essential data for schools.

This testing in 2010 will be the first time that we will be able to accurately measure value-add, as in the difference a school makes to a student in transition from year 3 to year 5, for example, and year 5 on to year 7, and to see the growth in student performance. That is critical. Parents support this test; schools need this test; the ACT government are determined—I repeat, determined—to do everything within our power to ensure that these tests go ahead over the next two weeks.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?

MS HUNTER: Minister, if the tests are conducted over two weeks, how can you ensure that the test questions will not be known before the second round of testing is done?

MR BARR: The testing being conducted over two weeks has been standard practice for NAPLAN over the past two years; so there would be no difference in arrangements for 2010 from what has applied in 2008 and 2009.

However, it of course remains the government’s preferred position for the testing to be conducted next week. But there has always been the option and the potential for students who are absent during that week to sit the test in the following week and


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