A new report claims the NAPLAN writing test is flawed and could harm students’ writing.

Retired US academic Les Perelman says the NAPLAN writing test is “defective in its design and execution” and should be reviewed.

He said the test should not reward students for using difficult words instead of plain English.

“Teaching to this test will make students poor writers by having them focus on non-essential tasks such as memorising spelling lists,” Dr Perelman’s new report, commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation, says.

“In summary, the NAPLAN essay fails to be a valid measure of any serious formulation of writing ability, especially within the context of its current uses.

“Indeed, NAPLAN’s focus on low-level mechanical skills, trivialisation of thought and its overall disjunction from authentic constructs of writing may be partially responsible for declining scores in inter-national tests.”

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) says the report improperly compares NAPLAN with tests that are designed for different purposes.

“The NAPLAN marking guide focuses on the fundamentals of effective writing — spelling and grammar,” he said.

“Students who get higher NAPLAN marks are able to demonstrate successful mastery of each.”

Additionally, an Edith Cowan University study has found half of 345 parents surveyed at private schools doubted NAPLAN tests would identify areas where students needed help.

Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, Queensland and South Australia have all called for a review of NAPLAN.