The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is creating an unintended side-effect of narrowing teaching strategies and approaches to the curriculum, according to a new study released by the University of Melbourne.


Researchers from the University’s Graduate School of Education surveyed over 8,300 teachers from all States and Territories, concluded that the standardised testing plan is having a number of unintended, and negative, consequences, including:

  • narrowing of teaching strategies and of the curriculum 
  • negative impacts on student health and wellbeing
  • negative impacts on staff morale, and
  • negative impacts on school reputation and capacity to attract and retain students and staff.  


According to the researchers, over half of the surveyed teachers said that NAPLAN impacts on their style and content of their teaching, while over two thirds said it reduced ‘face-to-face’ teaching times.


Lead researcher Nicky Dulfer said NAPLAN is limiting children’s exposure to non-tested areas.

“We are narrowing the curriculum in order to test children,” she said. “Our findings show concerns NAPLAN might be leading to more ‘teaching to the test’ are justified.”


Educators also reported that NAPLAN is having a negative impact on student wellbeing. Almost ninety percent of teachers reported students talking about feeling stressed prior to NAPLAN testing, and significant numbers also reported students being sick, crying or having sleepless nights.