One of the continuing concerns about NAPLAN is that it takes teachers’ attention away from subjects that it does not test. That includes music, along with other arts subjects, foreign languages and history. The consequence is not just that children may be under-achieving in these subjects but that their whole development may be negatively impacted.
Researchers Greg Thompson and Allen G. Harbaugh raised the alarm two years ago when they identified adverse effects of NAPLAN on pedagogy and curriculum in Western Australian and South Australian schools.
Nicky Dulfer, researcher in education at the University of Melbourne, has added to criticism of NAPLAN. She says teachers are reporting that they have less time to teach subjects that are not tested by NAPLAN. “In many schools teachers commented that a great deal of time and effort was spent on practising for NAPLAN, [and] this comes at the cost of other activities,” Dulfer told News Ltd’s Brooke Lumsden. “Subjects like music, art, PE were mentioned”.
Justin Coulson, an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wollongong, reaches the same conclusion in a scorching critique of NAPLAN in The Daily Telegraph. “Naplan delivers a narrowed curriculum as students miss out on various educational opportunities (such as sport, arts and drama, music and sometimes even lunch) for extra classroom time on Naplan practice,” he writes.