Five Facts about NAPLAN and Pearson


Teachers, unions, parents, and students have a right to know what involvement businesses such as Pearson have in Australian schools and NAPLAN.

Find out the truth of Pearson's involvement with NAPLAN with these five facts about NAPLAN and Pearson.

1. Pearson supports public schools

Pearson unequivocally supports the provision of free, high-quality, government-funded education led by qualified and well-trained teachers for every Australian child. Teachers are the single biggest factor impacting the success of students everywhere. We've always worked well with teachers around Australia and supported what they do in the classroom. Many public school teachers are authors of the resources we publish or come in to mark the NAPLAN on a casual basis—both of which boosts their income.

2. We only run the logistical side of NAPLAN in some states

Since 2012 we have held contracts with curriculum agencies in a number of states to handle the huge operation that is involved in running the National Assessment Program–Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) every year.

The NAPLAN is held one week in May every year. Kids in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 across Australia take a test of their numeracy and literacy.

Pearson staff and contractors do an amazing job each year of collecting, scanning, marking, and distributing the tests for over 7,000 schools.

We do not ‘run’ the test. We are not involved in developing policy around the test. We do not develop curriculum. We do not prepare test items, nor do we import these from other jurisdictions. There are no actual NAPLAN test items in any of our primary or secondary learning resources, such as textbooks.

In 2016:

  • about 48 million pages were separated, scanned, marked, collated, and distributed back to the curriculum agencies;

  • about 1,850 markers, mostly teachers hired on a casual basis, checked the answers to more than 64 million questions;

  • our separate facility on the outskirts of Melbourne fielded over 2,380 emails and 2,200 calls to and from schools; and

  • more than 1,300 computers for marking were installed in six marking centres around Australia.

3. We protect student and teachers data and do not use it in any way

Pearson’s role in NAPLAN is as a steward rather than the owner of student data, and therefore we are governed by and adhere to the terms and conditions of our contracts with the curriculum agencies.

When we are entrusted with student data by our customers, we work diligently with them to protect that information.

We take our responsibility to protect our customers’ and learners’ data extremely seriously and have systems, processes, and expert staff devoted to implementing such security controls, and verifying data protection, across our business.

We have never had a breach of data privacy in any of our NAPLAN contracts.

Any use of student data would be a breach our contractual arrangements, which are enforced stringently.

4. We do not sell any products or services that help students prepare for NAPLAN

The purpose of NAPLAN is to see students and schools improve their performance and monitor student progress. We do not think it should be something educators teach students in preparation.

There is a large industry run by other education companies and publishers that sell NAPLAN test preparation products. You may have seen them in newsagents or bookstores.

There is also a large NAPLAN tutoring industry. We are not involved in either industry.

5. NAPLAN is only one small part of a good education

Pearson understands that concerns around the role of assessments are varied and real. We believe that quality assessments are useful and important to the learning experience, but they are just one measure of the knowledge and skills that learners need.

They do not, and will never, completely define the sum total of what a good​ ​education ought to provide.

As Australia moves towards online assessment for the NAPLAN over the next few years, we believe a lot the stress will be taken out of the test.

Rather than the current ‘event-based’ approach, on a given week in May, with all of the associated pressure and unintended negativity, students will be able to take the test when their teacher thinks they are ready.

They will be able to take the test multiple times. Adaptive testing functionality will provide questions that suit the ability of the individual student, thus making the experience more effective and engaging.

In a recent presentation at an ANZ business forum, Pearson Asia Pacific MD, David Barnett, had several points to make concerning our purpose, our focus on the learner, and our commitment to efficacy. If you would like to find out more about Pearson's commitment to education, read the article here.


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