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Topic: 'A direct attack on teaching': NSW rules out NAPLAN robo marking
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
'A direct attack on teaching': NSW rules out NAPLAN robo marking
Posted: Dec 21, 2017 3:59 PM
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From the Sydney Morning Herald, Thusday, December 7, 2017. SEE
'A direct attack on teaching': NSW rules out NAPLAN robo marking

By Alexandra Smith

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has ruled out allowing computers to
mark NAPLAN writing tasks, warning it is "preposterous" to suggest
machines could do a better job than humans and described it as a
"direct attack on the teaching profession".

Mr Stokes revealed his staunch opposition to computer marking of
writing tests ahead of Friday's federal Education Council meeting
when ministers will consider plans by the Australian Curriculum,
Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to introduce robo marking
next year.
SIDEBAR PHOTO: NSW will not take part in robo marking of NAPLAN
results next year. Photo: Justin McManus
ACARA has said NAPLAN writing tasks completed online in 2018 would be
marked by a person as well as an automated scoring system.

An ACARA report, released in late 2015, said a "significant body of
literature confirmed that automated essay scoring met or surpassed
the quality of human markers" but Mr Stokes said he was opposed to
that argument.
SIDEBAR PHOTO: NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said a move to robo
marking "misunderstood the power of marking because teachers learn
from marking". Photo: Brook Mitchell
"I have been unconvinced by ACARA's explanation of the benefits of
robo markers," Mr Stokes said.

"The more I talk to a range of people, the more I realise this is a
big issue across all sectors and unions and it gets a strong,
visceral reaction across the board."

Mr Stokes said a move to robo marking "misunderstood the power of
marking because teachers learn from marking".

"Robo marking has no place in NSW schools and I can't foresee a
future where there will be an increase in machines marking something
as deeply personal as writing."

He said there was an argument for robo marking of multiple choice
questions but not beyond that.

"Any further machine marking is a direct attack on the teaching
profession," Mr Stokes said.

In October, the NSW Teachers Federation released research it
commissioned from a leading US education academic who warned it would
be "extremely foolish" and even damaging to student learning if
NAPLAN writing tests were marked by computers.

Les Perelman, an internationally renowned expert in writing
assessment from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said an
ACARA report on automated marking of NAPLAN was "so methodologically
flawed and so massively incomplete" that it could not be used to
justify any computer marking of NAPLAN.

Dr Perelman's review said a major failing of the ACARA report was
that it "completely ignores" any research that was critical of
automated essay scoring.

"Until these critical studies are completed and carefully evaluated,
it would be extremely foolish and possibly damaging to student
learning to institute machine grading of the NAPLAN essay, including
dual grading by a machine and a human marker," Dr Perelman's report

Schools are moving to NAPLAN tests online but ministers have agreed
to extend the timeline for all schools to transition online to 2020.
All year 3 students will do NAPLAN writing tasks with pencil and
paper regardless of when their school moves online.

Mr Stokes said only a "clear minority" of NSW public schools would
sit the tests online next year. He said he was concerned about the
publication of NAPLAN results on the MySchool website because the
data would not be comparable.

"It will not be comparing apples with apples because some tests will
be done online and some will be done with pen and paper," Mr Stokes

"I would want to see an appropriate disclaimer for the public so they
understand the data was collected differently."
Jerry P. Becker
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Services
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
625 Wham Drive / MC 4610
Carbondale, Illinois 62901

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