Schools start the NAPLAN cull
CHILDREN with learning difficulties are being pressured by schools to stay home on NAPLAN testing days.
Disability services advocate Julie Phillips said schools are increasingly lobbying the parents of kids with special needs to exempt their children from the annual standardised literacy and numeracy test.
More than one million Australian children in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are sitting NAPLAN tests this week.
Ms Phillips said the trend has become significantly worse in recent years as schools become preoccupied with their rankings on NAPLAN league tables.
"Schools are starting to become obsessed with their reputation and scores and they know that some students with disabilities are going to bring their scoring down," she said.
The Courier-Mail has spoken to the parents of a child in Year 5 at a state school in Brisbane's northern suburbs who has a learning difficulty.
The child's father said the family had been pressured by the school to sign a consent form to exempt their child from the test.
This is despite the child having previously sat NAPLAN in Year 3.
"The school knows my child is not going to perform well, so I am suspicious of their motives," the parent said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education said under nationally agreed guideline for the test certain students may be exempt from testing.
"This includes students with a significant intellectual disability and students with a language background other than English," the spokesperson said.
But the government spokesman said students could only be withdrawn or exempted from the testing program by their parent or carer.
Stephanie Gotlib, the chief executive of Children and Young People with Disability Australia said NAPLAN was a "constant theme" among inquires made to her office.
"We often hear of parents being subtly or blatantly asked to keep their child home," Ms Gotlib said.
"Schools are facing pressure to do as well as they can and that all adds to this really unfortunate experience where kids with disabilities are being commonly excluded from NAPLAN," she said.