Stay Calm, Keep Learning

By Greg Whitby, 10 May 2017


This week students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will undertake NAPLAN tests over three days. The assessments are a snapshot of how each student is progressing in the foundational areas of literacy and numeracy. NAPLAN provides parents with individual data about their children, and over time, it also provides schools and authorities with important trend data on what is working and not working when it comes to literacy and numeracy. It helps schools identify and plan the targeted intervention programs that might be required to assist students with their learning..

Like coaching clinics, NAPLAN has become big business with whole sections of bookstores dedicated to testing and preparation strategies. This is counterproductive and not what NAPLAN was supposed to be about. It’s understandable that some parents are concerned by the additional pressure that surrounds preparing for and sitting NAPLAN. Although this is the eighth year of NAPLAN testing, there are still parents who refuse to allow their child to sit the exams on the grounds that feel it is too stressful or not relevant to their child’s learning.

It Is important that parents and schools are able to put NAPLAN into context. It is only one measure of a child’s progress in literacy and numeracy. It is also important that we are mindful when it comes to our own responses and reactions to NAPLAN. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the emotion of it, there’s a good chance students will as well and become stressed at the prospect at not doing well.

The best preparation for NAPLAN this week is to stay calm and keep things in perspective. I say again: NAPLAN is just one measure of progress at a particular period of time. My advice for parents is to trust what the school is doing when it comes to preparing students for the week. Teachers are skilled at knowing how much support and preparation each child needs. Above everything else, keep in mind that NAPLAN isn’t the be-all or end-all of schooling. It’s also not a measure of your child’s intelligence. There are many ways to measure student progress in literacy and numeracy at a particular stage of their learning journey – NAPLAN is just one of those ways.

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

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