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Does NAPLAN really matter?

To test or not to test…that is the question!

NAPLAN is perhaps one of the most hotly debated topics in Australian education. Many parents and teachers firmly believe that it’s important to monitor children’s basic literacy and numeracy skills with a national testing program that shows where kids and schools are at.

Others say that testing children every two years in reading, writing, spelling and maths is over the top.

Whatever your view, NAPLAN looks like it’s here to stay.

And that means that, whether we parents like it or not, our children will carry their NAPLAN results with them throughout their school careers.

At some point in time, every child changes schools. Whether your son or daughter makes a natural transition from primary to high school, or simply moves to a new school, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to present his or her past NAPLAN results at enrolment.

Schools sometimes use the results of NAPLAN’s across-the-board testing to determine where a child ‘fits in’ with a new set of academic peers. Your child’s NAPLAN results could be one of the determining factors in decisions about placements in future primary or high school classes.

Although professional teachers who know your child well will use more than NAPLAN results to determine the additional support or learning opportunities your child might be able to receive, there’s every chance that your child’s NAPLAN results could also play a part in this decision making at school.

NAPLAN offers a ‘snapshot’ of your child’s skills on one of three days in May when the tests take place.

According to ACARA, the Australian Assessment and Curriculum Reporting Authority that runs NAPLAN, teachers use NAPLAN results to help identify students who could benefit from greater challenges or additional support.

ACARA also says that schools use NAPLAN results to identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching programs and to set school-wide goals for literacy and numeracy.

As you probably know, NAPLAN results from every Australian school are published annually on the MySchool website. This website uses Australian Bureau of Statistics data to compare the performance of each school with other schools that are statistically similar in terms of student backgrounds.

Generally the MySchool site shows whether a school is doing better, worse or about the same as schools that are statistically the same and when compared with all schools in general.

ACARA is at pains to point out that every school has a different student population and that comparisons of schools that are not statistically similar can lead to misleading conclusions.

This doesn’t change the fact that, in their search for the best school for their child, some parents (rightly or wrongly) use the NAPLAN results shown on the MySchool website to evaluate schools.

NAPLAN will take place this year in the third week of Term 2. If your child is in Years Three, Five, Seven or Nine, expect to hear about four tests that will take place between 13 and 15 May.

On day one, your child will sit for a 40-45 minute Language Conventions exam, which assesses spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. Later that day, your child’s creative writing skills will be tested in a second 40 minute exam.

On day two, primary schoolers child will sit a 45-50 minute Reading exam. This test will be longer for high schoolers, whose test will last for 65 minutes

On day three, the Numeracy exams will take place. Primary schoolers will sit one test of between 45 and 50 minutes’ duration, while high schoolers will sit two tests each lasting 40 minutes.

Kids First’s qualified teachers will offer a one-day NAPLAN preparation workshop for children in Year 3 and Year 5 on Tuesday 22 April 2014. The day commences at 9am and concludes at 3pm and will provide children with guidance and encouragement so that they are more familiar with the demands of NAPLAN testing. Limited places are available.

To find out more, or secure a place for your child, contact Kids First on (02) 9938 5419.


For more information about NAPLAN, talk with your child’s teacher or visit the
National Assessment Program website

References:

  • Australian Assessment and Curriculum Reporting Authority – National Assessment Program
  • MySchool website
  • NSW Department of Education and Communities – NSW Public Schools

 


Written by Sonja Walker
Teacher & Kids First founder
Copyright 2014
Kids First Children’s Services

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