Testimonials, February 2015
St Monica’s Principal Louise O’Donnell said it made sense to use technology for NAPLAN:
A two-week turnaround for results will be extremely helpful to use for student learning.
Louise O’Donnell, Principal,
St Monica’s Catholic Parish Primary School
Comments from the Canberra Times readers:
Since we all live on the bell curve, I find it a very useful way of seeing how well my children are performing in comparison to others. The bad thing I see is both the private and public education sector trying to use NAPLAN as a marketing tool by teaching to the tests. My children's public school has a policy of not teaching to the tests and does very well I should add.
My oldest is in Year 3 so I'm looking closely at NAPLAN for the first time and I'm open minded… My kids go to a small school (125 K-6) and I'm very interested in how they are performing not just amongst such a small sample that the school provides but across a broader spectrum.
However, the 'stress and anxiety' bit is rubbish. If it's creating undue stress and anxiety, then the parents and/or teachers are obviously putting far too much weight in it. We've already discussed it with the one in year 3 and built it up as something interesting, even fun, a landmark event as the first of many, many exams to come. She won't be coached (besides whatever prep the teacher gives her).
And if there's a bit of stress and anxiety, well, welcome to the rest of your life. School can be stressful but it's a doddle compared to the what's to come after. It's as good a time as any to start preparing them with some resilience to cope with life.
As a parent, I feel I have a right to know how my child is performing on a broader basis. The fact that they are doing well or poorly in a particular school doesn't necessarily mean much, as schools differ vastly in their average standard. I think that the "stress & anxiety" factor is grossly exaggerated. The kids sit the test for 40 minutes or so in their usual classroom with their usual teacher. At my son's school, it is not stressed over, not prepared for and just like any other routine test or assessment at school.
You know what? My son (year 5), my nieces (year 3 and 7) all loved the question and they are in a cross section of schools from western to northern Sydney. My son was graded at the top of the box for that question. He answered as a 10-year-old, that the laws should be changed in relation to asylum seekers. My 8-year-old niece answered that there should be more freedom in schools to choose the type of foods you eat.
Having said that, they both love tests. Some children love tests as a way of confirming what they know, not as a comparison. Their report cards don't do this for them.
My sister says NAPLAN is a way of testing teachers. To a degree I agree. But I just think there are some very articulate parents out there who make a big thing of it being too traumatic. Kids roll with all sorts of things. We just tell our child (and discuss it with him as we have since he was 2) that life is full of assessments. We are doing that every moment of the day as we make decisions about things. Testing our knowledge against any standard can only help societies understand where we need to improve.
I've been teaching (history & English) for 10 years in public high schools. NAPLAN gives us a baseline of data. It does this well. Everyone student in the country does the same test (unless excused). We use these data extensively to help with differentiation in teaching. Last week (week 2) I accessed data for all of my (new) classes, giving me a valuable insight into their past performances.
There are problems with media ranking schools, and schools (sadly, usually private) skewing results, these are commercial decisions. And fraud. NAPLAN is a very useful tool, and it's brutal honesty unsettles people. It also holds them to account (both parents and educators)... People get uncomfortable when held to account.
Well, just maybe teachers shouldn't be "preparing" kids for NAPLAN. That's not what it was set up for. Teachers should teach to the curriculum, not to what they think might be in NAPLAN. Teachers and schools have successfully transferred the stress of NAPLAN from the school executive to the kids.