The Australian Education Union has called for the country's education ministers to ditch the planned rollout of an online version of the NAPLAN numeracy and literacy test over the divide it would create for schools with less technological capabilities.
The impending rollout of the online version of NAPLAN has been set back due to concerns that platform stability issues as well as schools' technical capabilities would negatively impact on students' results.
All schools across the country abandoned trials of NAPLAN online in April, pushing the system testing back to May next year.
NAPLAN co-ordinator ACARA is currently conducting "readiness tests" with schools to assess their preparedness for a shift to the online platform. It is aiming to move fully to NAPLAN online by 2019 for all states and territories.
But the Australian Education Union - on behalf of teachers and principals - is calling for education ministers country-wide to immediately cease their involvement in the rollout and engage in "urgent discusssions" with educators.
It argues students and schools with less technical capability and access to technology would be put at a disadvantage by a purely online platform.
AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe pointed specifically to schools in regional and rural areas that struggle to attain reliable internet connections.
“Students are being asked to complete this test online while many of our schools simply will not have the capacity, technical support or resources from education departments to make this achievable," Haythorpe said in a statement.
“This only serves to reinforce inequality in our classrooms. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds will be disadvantaged.
"These results will not show us learning outcomes, they will show us whether or not a child has had access to technology and how proficient they are at using that technology."
The AEU called on ACARA and the federal government to immediately start "comprehensive consultation" with principals and teachers to understand the "enormous barriers" students would face.
“NAPLAN online is fundamentally flawed and must not be implemented. We call on every state and territory education minister to put the needs of every student first by scrapping the move to computer-based testing,” Haythorpe said.
The annual NAPLAN test assesses the progress of students in years three, five, seven, and nine in numeracy and literacy.