What is NAPLAN and what’s all the fuss?

At this time of year, you begin to see and hear the word NAPLAN on the news and in the media. The hype slowly builds from April through to peaking in mid-May when NAPLAN testing happens.

NAPLAN tests have been the subject of controversy since they were introduced in 2008 and even more so since 2010 when the results began being published on the MySchool website.

What is NAPLAN?

NAPLAN stands for ‘National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy’ and is an annual assessment across Australia for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. The tests are done on core skills such as reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numeracy.

What are the benefits of NAPLAN?

In the Educator Australia, three major benefits of NAPLAN were identified:

1.    It is a tool to improve teaching and learning.

2.    It is a transparent and consistent process across Australia.

3.    It holds governments and schools accountable.

NAPLAN results add value to teacher assessments by showing how their teaching and students’ achievements compare to a wider group of students across Australia. Teachers can use results to better identify students who require greater challenges or additional support. Schools can use results to identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning programs and to set goals in literacy and numeracy.

What are the disadvantages of NAPLAN?

Dr Bronwyn Hinz, Policy Fellow at the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University believes that some schools and parents overemphasise the importance of NAPLAN. In an Education Matters article, Ms Hinz said that NAPLAN is not a high-stakes test. “NAPLAN is a point-in-time test of a just a few, albeit important – subjects which can be compared to the same data collected at other times and around Australia, to help work out, among other things and alongside other data, the effects of different education programs and policies, and the places where additional resources could make the greatest impact,” she said.

Overemphasising the importance of NAPLAN can be at the detriment of deeper, learning and broader curriculum e.g. Arts, Technology, Design, Health and other non-NAPLAN tests.

Overemphasising NAPLAN results will also result in higher stress for the students and teachers involved.

Does every student have to do NAPLAN?

·         The government expects students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to sit for the NAPLAN tests however there are some exceptions.

·         If your child has a significant or complex disability, or is from a non-English speaking background and has been in Australia for less than a year, you can apply for an exemption.

·         If your child was recently injured and it may affect their ability to sit the test, you can speak to their teacher about what assistance can be made available to them.

·         NAPLAN is not compulsory and the official website reads; “While participation by all students is expected, students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers. http://www.nap.edu.au/information/faqs/naplan–participation.html.

How does NAPLAN work at GCC and what does it mean for your child?

what is NAPLAN

I believe we have a healthy balance at GCC when it comes to NAPLAN. We want all our students to do their best and show their level of learning but not at the expense of their well-being and overall educational journey.

Some classes have NAPLAN practice testing but this is to help prepare the students and reduce their stress.

If your child seems stressed about NAPLAN, encourage them to talk to their teacher. Remind them that NAPLAN doesn’t have any bearing on their future and is just a test to help their learning. Advise your child to do his or her best like they would for any other test but not to lose sleep over it.

Mike Curtis, Principal

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