My own daughter is reluctantly shuffling into her school hall to pit her numeracy and literacy skills against the school, state and national average after failing to convince me to sign her out of the test.
Two of her friends whose mums are teachers are not doing the test ‘in protest’ apparently over how kids are put through this in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. As she harrumphed off to school she was loudly doubting my parenting skills because if teachers say NO to NAPLAN then these tests must be the devil, and I must be a bad mum for making her go through such torture.
Finally, a quantifiable mark I can understand
For a lot of parents like me, the biennial National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) may provide the only quantifiable snapshot, at least in primary school, of how their kids are faring in literacy and numeracy.
In those off-NAPLAN years I have to try to decipher what my kids’ fluffy and vague school reports actually mean. Should I be thrilled and ring all the grandparents because they’ve scored ‘sound achievement’ in most subjects? Do I need to make an appointment with their teacher because they have the ‘sometimes’ box ticked in the area of ‘ability to work independently’?
I agree in part with the opponents that these tests doesn’t assess creativity or critical thinking abilities. And that the testing is narrow. These arguments have validity. True, these simplistic tests will not tell mums and dads how their kids are coping with school on a social level or reveal any aptitude for art, sport or leadership.
Love it or hate it, standardised testing is part of our educational culture right now and the vast majority of students will be subjected to it throughout their schooling. Year 12/HSC, or whatever your state calls it, is the most critical of these, and if your child wants to attend university straight after high school, they won’t be able to avoid it.
I don’t consider my kids’ NAPLAN results as life-important, at least on a drilled-down individual basis. They’re not going to directly influence whether they’ll get into university (although some schools do now ask to see them in admittance interviews), nor will they haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Very simplistically, a child’s results are presented in a four-page folder which shows where they sit across literacy and numeracy testing in line with the school and the national average. And that’s the exciting part. After getting an actual metric on how your child performed you can then can put the report in a drawer never to be looked at again.
They can also red flag an issue concerning your child or the school and you may wish to find out more. It’s your call because it’s unlikely anyone is going to proactively seek you out to talk to you about your child’s results.
For the greater good?
A NAPLAN goal is to enable parents, schools and teachers to have more information about whether students and their schools are meeting national curriculum expectations in literacy and numeracy.
While I’m not sure about all the ‘greater good’ arguments, I’ve not been convinced by the opposing views either.
What I do know is that I’m not fussed about my kids sitting these en-masse tests every couple years and I am entertained by seeing how they fare.
I understand that there are people in the know who are strongly opposed to standardised testing. But I’m just not seeing any great harm being caused by it.
Maybe I’m delusional or have missed an important argument. But I will be waiting excitedly next term to see how my daughter performed.
This article was written by Fiona Baker. It was sourced from Kidspot