NAPLAN (National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy) is an annual school assessment for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 designed to provide information to schools and parents about how students are tracking against educational benchmarks in literacy and numeracy, and how these results track over time. NAPLAN is designed as a diagnostic tool, taking a snapshot of a moment in time, however there has been a tendency to portray it as a high-stakes examination, putting undue pressure on students, parents and in fact, teachers.
There is no denying the relevance of NAPLAN in your son’s education, but it does have limitations. It is important to remember that NAPLAN is not a panacea to your child’s education, nor should it be used in solitude to assess a school and its level of success, and importantly, it is not a measure designed to evaluate teacher performance.
Whilst NAPLAN data is extremely valuable and is used widely within schools to track student learning and review teaching and learning programmes, it is important to know that it is just one set of a vast of array of data that is considered in this evaluation.
The data that helps schools to assess students more fully can come from assessments, teacher observations, student self-assessment and reflections, evidence of learning from workbooks as well as essential information gained from each and every learning experience. These are used to evaluate students not just in literacy and numeracy, but the whole gamut of education outcomes.
Parents are encouraged to view their son’s NAPLAN results in the same light – as just one element of the entire assessment method – and to resist the temptation to pressure their children to ‘ace’ the assessment. With the range of NAPLAN preparation resources being marketed to parents, and the media’s tendency to distil messages to simplistic sensational headlines, it can be very easy for parents to succumb to this ‘high-stakes’ mentality.
To avoid your son suffering stress at NAPLAN time, we encourage parents to support their sons through this process by resisting the urge to overemphasise the importance of the tests, as it could potentially affect deeper learning. Instead, NAPLAN test days should be treated as just another scheduled event on the School agenda.
Dr Bronwyn Hinz, Policy Fellow at the Mitchell Institute, Victoria University, was recently reported as saying, “NAPLAN does not replace the much deeper, more sophisticated and more frequent formative or summative assessments of student learning done by school teachers, nor does it provide judgement on how ‘good’ a student, teacher or school might be.”
When comparing the NAPLAN results of different schools, parents should be mindful that while results listed on the Myschools website compare schools of similar socio-education advantage, they do not detail other influences that may be at play. For example schools with selective streams may be directly compared to schools that are non-selective.
NAPLAN is an essential tool that we at Trinity Grammar School use to identify areas where our programmes could be reviewed and improved, and it also helps us to identify whether changes in our approach are having the desired impact on learning outcomes. We are also mindful not to allow NAPLAN testing to have a negative influence on learning opportunities, curriculum choice and student wellbeing.
At Trinity, we believe in educating boys in mind, body and spirit. While academic subjects are the core of our education focus, they are supplemented by co-curricular activities including sport, music and other creative arts, provided within the context of a supportive Christian environment. These latter elements are not evaluated as part of the NAPLAN testing, and their importance to a well-rounded education should not be underestimated.
To learn more about the Trinity difference and how we can nurture your son to discover his potential, passions and purpose in life, download our prospectus.