National Literacy and Numeracy Online

Indeed, ACARA has advised, with their series of expert reviews—including one commissioned by the Education Council that was independent of ACARA—that both the online and the paper test results were comparable, and the results were presented on the same scale. I also confirm, of course, that we are looking to substantially increase, both in South Australia and across the country, the number of schools that are proposed to be moving to NAPLAN Online. When the shadow minister was the minister, the original start date for all schools was to be 2019. That was shifted back in 2017, and I believe that we are now looking at 2021 for all schools across the country, all being well.

In South Australia, we are in a position where we are able to significantly increase the number of schools doing NAPLAN Online this year. One of the things we have to do is ensure that the platform is capable of delivering on the load for all states and all jurisdictions. Obviously, this is why we have tests and technical tests. Last week, there was one such test where I think it is useful to give some clarity about what happened because I think that some people have been suggesting that the situation is much more difficult than indeed is the case.

I will go through this in a very straightforward fashion. A platform readiness test was conducted first on 22 October and 2 November last year to validate that the 2019 NAPLAN Online version is fit for purpose and ready for this year. A further platform readiness test was undertaken between 4 and 15 February 2019. The purpose of that test was to test changes or enhancements to the platform that were made as a result of issues with the LockDown Browser that were identified in the first test in 2018.

Nationally, the February 2019 testing was positive, with the online platform being locked down on 25 February 2019. The schools practice test window, which is a critical thing we are doing at the moment to ensure that issues when schools log in are picked up, is scheduled for between 25 March and 26 April, with a nationally coordinated practice test scheduled for last Thursday, 28 March. The nationally coordinated practice test is to simulate how the platform will perform under live load conditions. South Australia and Victoria participated on 28 March, with South Australia coordinating the majority of our proposed 2019 schools to commence testing at 10am last Thursday.

On the morning of the practice test, a number of schools across multiple jurisdictions, mainly Victoria and South Australia, progressively reported connectivity issues with the national platform. For South Australia, the department commenced receiving calls from schools prior to 8.30. These schools were attempting to connect to the national online platform in readiness for the 10am start but were unable to do so. These issues were reported and logged to Education Services Australia through the agreed process.

By 9am, the national program management office advised that this was a critical national issue, as it was experienced by more than one jurisdiction, and non-government sector representatives were advised as well. In accordance with the protocols, all schools were advised at 9.54am that the department was aware of an issue and that they would be doing their test at another time. At approximately 10am, six minutes later, the department was advised by the national PMO that the issue had been resolved. Schools were now able to recommence their schedule of testing, which they will do over the next couple of weeks.

This is an important reason why we have these checks in the first place—so that we can iron out these technical problems and get the process right for all our schools right across the country.