Surging sickness forces NAPLAN deadline extension

Key points

  • Students will have an extra week to sit literacy and numeracy test NAPLAN due to widespread staff and student absences.
  • The deadline has been extended until May 27.
  • Young people account for 27 per cent of Victoria’s COVID cases and almost half of the state’s influenza infections.
  • NAPLAN was conducted online only this year for the first time. 

Students will have an extra week to sit their NAPLAN exams as surging flu cases and COVID-19 infections prevent children from completing the numeracy and literacy tests.

Schools were due to complete the tests from May 10 to 20, but the deadline has been extended until May 27 due to widespread student and staff absences.

Results in NAPLAN tests show significant gaps in reading and numeracy skills between disadvantaged and advantaged students, but the gaps were not exacerbated by the 2020 lockdowns.Credit: Louise Kennerley

The Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority, which is responsible for NAPLAN in the state, said some students had been unable to complete NAPLAN by the May 20 deadline because of COVID-19 and other health issues.

“In these circumstances, please be advised that NAPLAN online tests may now be administered, where this can be accommodated by the school, up to and including Friday, May 27, 2022,” it told principals on Thursday.

NAPLAN is a national assessment of reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy for students in years three, five, seven and nine. It is conducted over several days and was completed online for the first time this year.

Victorian Principals Association president Andrew Dalgleish said extending the deadline was a “reasonable and commonsense response”.

Young people aged up to 19 accounted for 27 per of the state’s COVID cases on Thursday. The Health Department this week warned senior Victorian education staff that 45 per cent of all influenza notifications reported so far this month were for people aged five to 19.

Many principals have complained that staffing shortages and the shift to online testing made NAPLAN extremely challenging this year.

Chatham Primary School principal Chris Cotching said the anxiety related to the tests was significant.

“There were two of my grade five teachers off with health issues,” she said. “That was stressful when you had to make sure you had CRTs [casual relief teachers] who knew what they were doing.

“It creates a lot of stress in staff which creates stress in kids. We reassure kids and parents, but it is very demanding and very stressful on top of everything else they are trying to manage.”

Wendy Powson, principal of Lilydale High School, said her school had a positive experience with the online tests.

“I took an awful lot of organisation as you can imagine, kids who didn’t have devices we had to make sure they had one,” she said.

“What we are looking forward to is having the results coming back a bit early, so it can inform teaching.”

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