It had to happen of course; that the new spirit of national cooperation and cooperative revolution would get stickier and trickier when it got down to the details. Like the NAPLAN (National Asessment of Literacy and Numeracy) benchmarks and where they might be placed.
Last week the Herald-Sun gave some glimpse of that behind the scenes wrangling when it reported that high performing states (Victoria) were jostling with low performing states (WA, NT, TAS) over where to place the literacy and numeracy benchmarks: too high and the low performing states will look like basket cases, and too low and the results in Victoria will be absurdly high.
The paper said:
But the poor results in Tasmania, WA and the Northern Territory have sparked a political row between the states over where benchmarks should be set.
And the row has put the broader concept of the national curriculum – hailed by educators and politicians as a necessary step forward – at risk.
A Victorian education source told the Sunday Herald Sun state departments were squabbling over where the benchmarks should be set and the Naplan literacy and numeracy standards were set “embarrassingly low so the results don’t look too bad in some areas of the country”.
“If they had set the minimum standards any lower, Victoria would have scored 100 per cent and if they had set them any higher, the NT would have been diabolical,” the source said.
And this is only the beginning. This will only get murkier as the national curriculum moves from zealous ideology to actual curriculum.