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NAPLAN writing tasks to be double-marked in 2017

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority believes computers can mark NAPLAN writing tasks as effectively as human markers, but tests will be marked under both systems in 2017.

A transition from literacy and numeracy testing using pencil and paper to an online testing environment begins next May, with about 10 per cent of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 taking the test online next year. All students are expected to be sitting NAPLAN online by 2019.

ACARA general manager of assessment and reporting Stanley Rabinowitz told The Australian that while there is broad acceptance that computers can mark the majority of the test questions, for which there is a right or wrong answer, doubts remain over computerised essay marking.

“We are proposing that computers can do as good a job as humans,” Dr Rabinowitz said.

But, “for 2017, we understand there’s concern, so we’re going to double-mark everything. Computer and human, and if there’s a discrepancy, a human will fix the discrepancy.”

Dr Rabinowitz said trials of the NAPLAN online environment earlier this year highlighted some issues to be ironed out before the May testing window, but said he is “more than confident” that the self-selected 10 per cent of schools will be able to administer the test effectively.

It is still unclear if year 3 students will complete the writing component of NAPLAN testing using computers next year or use pencil and paper, with some concerns about the typing skills of those students.

Education ministers are expected to make a decision on that question later this month.

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