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TEACHERS in Monash are referring students to private tuition centres in a bid to improve NAPLAN test scores.
A private tuition company the Weekly spoke to said that although schools did not explicitly refer students to them, a number of teachers had been encouraging students to seek extra help after school.
Spectrum Tuition co-founder Thuy Pham said about 5per cent of the students the company saw had been sent by their teachers.
‘‘We have had teachers refer some of their students to us,’’ Ms Pham said.
‘‘We only know that from the enrolment. When we’re enrolling new students we just ask them, ‘How’d you find out about us?’ and quite a few students these days are saying: ‘My teacher told me about you guys’.’’
Spectrum Tuition has three campuses — Mount Waverley, Albion and Footscray — and tutors about 500 students.
NAPLAN tests are designed to measure literacy and numeracy across the nation. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority sets the tests.
The authority’s spokesman, James Morrow, said the tests should be ‘‘kept in perspective’’.
‘‘NAPLAN is testing student ability in fundamental areas of literacy and numeracy. These are not things that can really be practised outside — just actually going outside the day-to-day learning of the classroom.
‘‘It’s not really productive to get lots of coaching or outside help because it’s not about who does better than who; it’s about seeing how people are doing against the measures of achievement in literacy and numeracy.
''The best preparation for NAPLAN is not teaching to the test.’’
But Monash University senior lecturer and former school principal, David Zyngier, said this is what teachers were doing.
‘‘I’ve just spoke yesterday to a whole class of student teachers who were out in schools in the last two weeks. All but one of my 30 students indicated all they observed was ‘teaching to the test’.
‘‘No other learning was taking place. And it’s two weeks minimum out of a school year.
‘‘If we just focus on literacy and numeracy — as too many primary schools are now doing — in order to enhance the student achievement on the NAPLAN tests, the children are not getting that well-rounded education they need if they’re going to succeed in secondary school.
‘‘We don’t have time in our school curriculum to drop the ball. Our curriculum is very crowded as it is.’’
Dr Zyngier, a signatory to the Say No to NAPLAN campaign, said he wasn’t surprised teachers were referring students to private companies.
‘‘It was mooted that teachers would be rewarded on the basis of the NAPLAN tests.
‘‘I think that hasn’t been successful but it’s still a matter for discussion that higher-performing teachers would get financial rewards for their contribution to their child based on some kind of measurable outcome. The only measurable outcome we can see would be the NAPLAN test.
‘‘Teachers are under a lot of pressure from their principals, and their principals are under pressure from their regional directors, and the regional directors are under pressure from their state minister of education. No state wants to be labelled as underperforming the national average.