A British educationalist said the national testing system in his country led to increased truancy and school dropouts rather than improved overall performance, and should not be used as a measure of schools' or teachers' performance.
A week before the release of this year's NAPLAN test results, Professor Alan Smithers - who has advised both the Blair and Cameron governments - will be speaking at a conference of Catholic principals, said The Age.
Professor Smithers said that under the former Blair government, schools that performed below a certain level in national tests, known as SATS, were threatened with closure and head teachers faced the sack.
''If you say to a school you are in danger of being closed if the score doesn't reach this level, the scores will reach that level,'' said Professor Smithers.
''Because, instead of the time being spent on education to understand the world, it's spent on how to learn the tests. That's the great weakness of that approach.''
Professor Smithers said that while students' results had improved in national tests, they had got worse in international tests or independent tests where nothing hung on the results as far as the school was concerned.
During the Blair years, Professor Smithers said, the numbers of children going to independent schools increased, truancy jumped by 20 per cent and there was a rise in the number of young people not in education, training or employment.
''That makes sense - if you are setting store by whether children can achieve test scores and children can't, or are not interested, they will take themselves to the local shopping mall.
''The schools weren't really concerned because if those low scores were walking away from the school, who were they to get agitated about it?''
National testing results in truancy, dropouts, expert says (The Age)