The author, recently involved in the national testing of primary school student achievement and school performance in England, is a supporter of national testing but is opposed to the test results being used for purposes for which they are not fit. He discusses the situation in England and the response of teachers to the testing regimen, as well as the purposes for which the results are used. There are lessons for Australia arising from an examination of the English situation and several things need to be attended to: Australia must be absolutely clear about the purposes of testing and not attach additional purposes to NAPLAN for which it was not designed; Australia must ensure that for the national transparency agenda to have a positive impact on education school outcomes must be reported directly to the public rather than as value-added or 'contextualised' attainment measures; targets should be set, but used cautiously, and never as an instrument for implementing policy. The author argues that the best way to achieve genuine transparency that has a really positive impact on the quality of primary education is to support the analysis and publication of reports on the performance of like schools and the publication of national data comparing the achievement in one group of schools with that in other groups of school, and hence identifying the need for improvement. [Author abstract, ed]
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