NAPLAN is over for another year – was there any damage done?

More than one million children across Australia sat the NAPLAN exams this week, including both of my own. Yesterday it was reading, today mathematics. Tomorrow it’s over for another two years.

Sure there’s been the isolated stories about children getting stressed by the exams – one friend, a teacher, said it was “devastating” to have one of her Year 3 students cry throughout the whole exam – but on the whole, it seems to have gone off without a hitch.

And did it really hurt anyone that much? I know kids who were aggrieved they missed out on PE, others happy because they were treated to a post-NAPLAN milkshake, others who totally forgot it was on until they got to school.

I really don’t understand the fuss that NAPLAN causes each year. The main issue many people have with it is how the data is used to create league tables, giving us the ability to compare and contrast, and I guess ultimately, choose schools.

Does anyone know a parent who has actually done this? Do parents actually ignore things good schools offer, like a sense of community, facilities and co-curricular opportunities, a good principal, teachers who care, just because their NAPLAN ranking is high?

And, if you have any understanding of how the data is compiled and used, you’ll know that a ranking is based on a cohort, not a school. Get a good group of smart kids in the group and results will be skewed, and it works the other way too. A school’s ranking can jump around quite substantially year to year. What are we to go on? Most parents with any common sense won’t make any decision based on a league table.

The other problem people seem to have is when schools decide to teach to the tests. Another teacher friend said she barely has enough time to teach what’s in the National Curriculum, let alone spend a good couple of weeks preparing the children for NAPLAN. Perhaps she should look for another school. Or band together with her fellow teachers and tell the principal they’d rather not, thanks very much.

The one thing resulting from the NAPLAN discussion that gives me the most hope however is that for one week a year parents seem engaged in their child’s education. How many other tests, assignments and projects go unnoticed throughout the term?

If there’s one true indicator of a child’s chance of succeeding at school it’s the engagement of their parents. Building a relationship with your child’s teacher – who’ll have a much better idea than any standardised test about how your child is going – is paramount. Knowing what’s happening in class, who their friends are, what they did at break. How was music today? What’s the craziest thing you learned today? (Did you know what worms drink their own pee? Me neither, and I’m still not sure it’s true, because Google can lie you know Mum.) Never stop asking questions.

The best story to come out of my NAPLAN world was from a friend who lives in South Australia. She said their local primary school took the whole of Year 5 to a sleep over at the Adelaide Zoo on Tuesday night after the writing exam and got them back the next morning in time for reading.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 老域名.