NAPLAN woes after statewide outage affects first day of testing in Queensland schools

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Queensland state schools were left scrambling to start online NAPLAN tests on the first day yesterday due to a government-wide internet outage that affected schools. 

Key points:

  • Some schools had issues starting or had to pause in the middle of the test due to a Queensland government-wide outage
  • The Department of Education says any students who were unable to do their test yesterday can do it over the nine-day testing window
  • Testing went ahead as scheduled today

A state school teacher, who wanted to remain anonymous, told ABC Radio Brisbane the internet outage caused havoc at their Gold Coast school — with only some devices able to connect and students having to move to different computers around the school mid-test.

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The staff member said the outage impacted the school network from 11am until after 3pm but once students were able to connect, they were able to complete the test that day, as answers were automatically saved when they resumed on other devices.

Other teachers posted on social media about the internet outage affecting the testing at their school throughout the testing sessions.

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This year Queensland schools completed the transition to online NAPLAN, and as such did not receive back-up paper tests, and can reschedule online tests where necessary.

Teachers' union says situation caused pressure

Teachers' unions have long campaigned against the standardised test since it began in 2008, arguing the test is high-stakes, creates workload pressure, and is stressful for students and teachers.

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NAPLAN woes after statewide outage affects first day of testing in queensland schools

President of the Queensland Teachers Union Cresta Richardson said there would have been intense pressure on teachers and students during the outage.(ABC News: Alice Pavlovic)

Queensland Teachers' Union president Cresta Richardson said it was her understanding the outage lasted for up to an hour, and there were some tests that were underway during the outage.

She said yesterday was the perfect storm of “government incompetence”.

“So just imagine what teachers and kids had to put up with yesterday as that outage occurred and what would have happened from then … the pressure on students and teachers at that moment would have been quite intense.”

NAPLAN testing went ahead today as scheduled, and any students who were not able to complete the test can sit again throughout the nine-day window.

Students can sit missed tests again

Based on information from Tuesday, an education department statement said: “No students who had already started their test were affected and the vast majority of students had already completed their test before the outage”.

After ABC Radio Brisbane questioned whether no students who had begun their test were impacted, the department amended its statement, adding “to the department's knowledge no students who had already started their test were affected”.

“The full testing window is over nine days, so any students who were not able to do their scheduled test yesterday will have the opportunity for their test to be rescheduled,” the spokesperson said.

“NAPLAN testing has proceeded as scheduled today.”

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the national body that sets the tests, said there were procedures in place to manage any incidents, including internet outages.

“In the event of disruptions during testing, schools can pause and resume testing and, if required, reschedule testing within the nine-day testing window with advice from their testing authority,” the spokesperson said.

“All student work is automatically backed up and saved every 30 seconds.

Citec, the Queensland government's network provider, has been contacted for comment.

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