13 May 2019
In May, Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students will sit the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test. While the data might be put to good use, the overemphasis routinely placed on these tests defeats the point.
It would be valuable to have an accurate measure of schools’ and students’ performance in order to make decisions, from national policy to individuals’ needs.
However, some schools have blacked out FOUR WEEKS of their maths classes to practice specifically for this test, wasting valuable learning time. And I haven’t seen any English plans yet, so I can only hope they’re not similar.
Four weeks! That’s 10% of your child’s school year in maths, spent preparing for a test which should be assessing what the school has been teaching the whole time, not in the four weeks leading up to it! (Can you sense my frustration here? Missing the whole point of testing.)
Despite NAPLAN’s own recommendation, some schools drill heavily before the test to improve their school’s results. This is time taken away from students’ productive learning. And we see students’ anxiety levels rise and their enthusiasm for maths diminish.
Familiarisation reduces test anxiety, yes, and students need to know what to expect. But adults over-emphasising NAPLAN performance (even without realising it) increases anxiety, which reduces students’ capacities to accurately demonstrate what they know.
Please, tell your child to relax, to take it seriously, but not to let themselves stress about it at all. Thankfully, form our position, we can ignore NAPLAN, and make good use of these students’ “four weeks off” to work ahead of their peers.
Dan Blore is an Educator and Manager at Extended Learning Centres in Mooloolaba.