NAPLAN - Keep it in Perspective
NAPLAN! A term that can cause considerable stress to many a student and parent; but should you really get that worried about it? NAPLAN, (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy), is conducted annually across all schools in Australia. Students in years three, five, seven and nine sit for NAPLAN tests covering reading, writing, language conventions - (grammar, spelling and punctuation) and numeracy. This year testing will be conducted from 15-17 May.
NAPLAN is a tool to provide a standardised measure of critical literacy and numeracy skills for young students across Australia. Data gathered from the tests enables government authorities and schools to identify national trends, highlight strengths and weaknesses and also to reset focus for the future. It also helps to monitor how our education system is operating.
It is important to remember that NAPLAN does not test content, but rather tests skills that have been learnt over a period of time. Therefore, you cannot teach the tests. Rather, a student is expected to use skills and strategies that are continually being taught as part of the National Curriculum in English and Mathematics. NAPLAN tests essential literacy and numeracy skills that are important for every child to be successful as they progress through school and later life. NAPLAN is only one aspect of a school’s assessment process and does not replace the ongoing assessments that each school has in place to assess and monitor a student’s progress. The tests only provide a ‘snapshot’ of how a student is performing at that point in time.
There are strict guidelines for testing and this is often where anxiety starts for students. Many students feel unable to cope with this as they feel pressure to do well in the tests. Teachers will provide support and guidance to ensure that students are adequately prepared for NAPLAN. Rather than students getting anxious about the testing, they should be encouraged to use it as a learning experience about formal examination situations, which they will encounter later in their formal schooling and adult life. Talk to your child’s teacher if you feel your child appears to be overly concerned about NAPLAN.
How can you assist your child to be ready for NAPLAN? Given that NAPLAN tests literacy and numeracy skills, these are the things that you should be encouraging in your child on a daily basis. Ongoing practice over time will ensure your child is using effective literacy and numeracy skills all the time, not just when NAPLAN comes around.
Encourage them to read every day and to be critical thinkers. Expose them to a variety of text types including magazines, newspaper articles, blogs, stories and visual text including photographs. Ask them for their opinions; do they like the author’s style, do they agree with their point of view etc.
Be involved in their writing. Ask them to share written drafts. Expect correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. Encourage them to write lists, send snail mail or keep a diary. Society still highly values correct written structure despite the overwhelming use of email and text messages.
Opportunities to enhance numeracy skills are all around us. Concepts about money and number are endless when you go shopping. Banking helps children understand about interest, loans, saving and debt. Cooking together can assist with measurement concepts. Driving is an opportunity to discover concepts about speed and distance. The list goes on.
While NAPLAN may be scary to some, it is important to remember that at its heart it is about ensuring that all students meet expected literacy and numeracy targets to enable them to become effective citizens in the community. NAPLAN provides data to assist schools modify and implement better programs for their students.
So, if your child is sitting NAPLAN tests this year, remember, it’s only one of many tests your child will take, and it certainly won’t define them for the rest of their lives. Ensure they get a good night’s rest the night before, and encourage them to do their best, which is all any of us can do!
(For more detailed information about NAPLAN, please visit www.nap.edu.au)
Karen Carter is Co-Director at Kip McGrath Education Centre Burpengary, providing professional tuition by qualified teachers in Maths and English for Primary and Secondary students. Visit www.kipmcgrath.com.au/burpengary or phone 3888 2332 for a free assessment.