Federal, state and territory education ministers are considering giving schools another year to transition to NAPLAN online, as concerns over IT infrastructure continue to dog the plan for a national digital test.
The transition to an online version of the national numeracy and literacy test was set back earlier this year when all states and territories walked away from planned trials of the digital approach.
The broad concern was that the system was not stable enough to deliver the test without any issues that could potentially compromise students' results.
Some 2500 schools in NSW and another 280 in Western Australia are the only ones to have tested the system so far, with all other states and territories opting to wait until mid next year before conducting the trials.
However, until now Australia’s NAPLAN co-ordinator ACARA was still aiming to shift NAPLAN fully online for all states and territories by 2019.
Now WA’s education minister Sue Ellery has indicated that COAG’s Education Council is contemplating pushing back the date for the transition.
“There is some talk that we consider pushing out the full implementation to 2020,” she told WA budget estimates this week.
Ellery said it was currently a “live matter” before the Education Council that would be revisited in December, but that Western Australia would nevertheless continue to work towards the 2019 deadline.
“We are still working towards doing it in 2019 because I think you have to draw a line in the sand and get everybody working towards a particular point; otherwise, you will keep dragging out how quickly or otherwise you fix the issues.”
A spokesperson from ACARA wouldn’t be drawn on which states or territories supported the move.
“Each state and territory will determine when schools in their jurisdiction are ready to move online, as they have responsibility for administering NAPLAN,” the spokesperson said.
“Readiness activities are being undertaken in states and territories across Australia in preparation for the move to NAPLAN online from 2018.
“State and territory education authorities will use the outcome of these readiness activities, and the experience of those schools, to assess which schools will transition to NAPLAN online in 2018 and which need additional time.”
The development comes just months after the Australian Education Union called on the country’s education ministers to ditch the planned rollout of NAPLAN online due to the divide it would create for schools with less technological capabilities.
NAPLAN online is already regarded as at-risk by the Digital Transformation Agency, which has listed the project in the ‘engage’ category of its $6 billion government IT watchlist.