NAPLAN scores linked to cultural background

An analysis of NAPLAN results found large differences in students’ average scores linked to their specific cultural background and language spoken at home (Bigstock)

A student’s cultural background has been found to have a significant impact on their academic results, sparking calls for an overhaul in the way educational advantage in school communities is measured. Source: The Australian.

The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria’s analysis of NAPLAN results from more than 120,000 students identified large differences in students’ average scores linked to their specific cultural background and language spoken at home, more so than socio-economic factors.

Students who reported a Chinese, Japanese or Korean-language background have been found to score, on average, up to 65 points higher on the numeracy test compared with students who speak English at home.

Conversely, students who report an Aboriginal, African or Polynesian-language background score as much as 40 points lower.

The research has underpinned CECV’s call for the cultural background of students to be considered when assessing school advantage or disadvantage, alongside other influential factors such as parental education and occupation and school location.

The appeal comes amid a federal review into the presentation of NAPLAN results that is investigating, among other things, the potential for misinterpretation or misuse of the data.

The federal Government’s publicly accessible My School website publishes the NAPLAN data of all schools across the country, with each school allocated a score on the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) to enable comparisons between “statistically similar” schools. However, according to the CECV, the exclusion of cultural background from the calculation of ICSEA scores meant a known impact on academic results was being ignored, resulting in schools being compared that were not necessarily similar.

In a letter to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which administers My Schools, commission acting chief executive Jim Miles said the fact that the cultural backgrounds of students were not taken into account rendered many school comparisons on the website misleading.

“There seems to be many instances where schools receive relative ratings for their NAPLAN performance that reflect the (unmeasured) cultural background of their students rather than the performance of the school compared to ‘like’ schools,” Mr Miles said.


NAPLAN ‘blind’ to cultural factors (The Australian)

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