By Fiona Baker
Every year, students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in public and private schools around the country sit the same literacy and numeracy tests. It’s called NAPLAN – The National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy. How important is NAPLAN testing for your child? Should parents get their kids tutored? Is it a true guide to how your child is performing?
Over three days in Term 2, students are tested on language conventions, writing, reading and numeracy. These are all then gathered up nationally and marked, with schools, and later parents, receiving the results usually around the end of Term 3.
The aim of these tests is to measure how Australian students and their schools are performing in the important areas of literacy and numeracy.
Parents receive a printed out sheet featuring several bands which mark where their child sits on the national achievement scale, what the average mark was, and where their school’s average was.
Its purposes are many – these are not meant to be only about individual student performances but also to enable schools to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and to provide an overview on how the curriculum is working nationally.
Should children be coached for NAPLAN?
No, according to Dr Debra Bateman, senior lecturer at Deakin University’s School of Education. Tutoring kids to do well in the NAPLAN defeats the purpose of it on many levels, because it would artificially inflate results and mask the areas of need in the student, the school and the curriculum.
All the official literature on NAPLAN also actively discourages the coaching of students before the tests. However, it does acknowledge the teachers will ensure students are prepared for the tests and will provide appropriate support and guidance.
You can access past tests at the NAPLAN website.
Why does NAPLAN matter?
NAPLAN testing is part of the federal government's moves to create a national curriculum and measure consistency between state-based education systems.
The results of every Australia school's NAPLAN tests are published on the MySchool website. The NAPLAN colour coding results on the MySchool website can be confusing, but the coloured strips above the smaller numbers in black shows whether the school identified is doing better, worse or about the same as schools statistically the same and all schools in general. Basically speaking, a chart on the MySchool website with lots of dark or light green bars is good, whereas a lot of pink and red bars is not such a good report of NAPLAN results.
Hopefully this information has helped everyone get their heads around the hot topic of NAPLAN!
Vanessa & Lauren