Standardized Testing and School Achievement: The Case of Indigenous-Language-Speaking Students in Remote Australia

Leonard Freeman, Gillian Wigglesworth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


An assumption underpinning Indigenous education reviews and reforms in Australia over the past decade is that improvements in school attendance rates will lead to improved rates of literacy and numeracy achievement, as measured by the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLaN). However, there is evidence which indicates that in very remote Indigenous communities this assumption may not hold true.
Informed by second language acquisition research, this project reanalysed a school-level achievement dataset to investigate whether the remoteness and linguistic diversity of schools in the Northern Territory of Australia statistically influenced the impact that school-level attendance had on the schools’ rates of literacy and numeracy achievement as measured by NAPLaN. The findings of these analyses highlight the invisibility of remote Indigenous-language speaking students’ English language learning needs within Australia’s standardised national literacy and numeracy assessment framework. We argue that for Australia’s education systems to deliver equitable outcomes, policy makers need to truly recognise that the majority of very remote Indigenous students speak an Indigenous language as their first language and thus require a differentiated approach to teaching, learning and assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sociopolitics of English Language Testing
EditorsSeyyed-Abdolhamid Mirhosseini , Peter I. De Costa
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-3500-7135-3, 978-1-3500-7137-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-3500-7134-6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


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