NAPLAN involves students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 taking 40–45-minute tests of writing, reading, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy skills.
KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE
For some students, NAPLAN is exciting, as it offers a way to show their teachers and parents just how well they can do. For other students, it’s just another day. The best advice parents can give their children is to keep NAPLAN in perspective. Whether your child is preparing for a swimming carnival, cross-country or NAPLAN, it is important to encourage them to just do their best on the day.
Model positive behaviour
NAPLAN and other school assessments can be a good learning opportunity to help children practise building resilience. Think about how you deal with a potentially stressful situation – whether it is preparing a work presentation, making a new friend or participating in a fun run. Most likely, you have a variety of coping mechanisms to help you calm any anxiety that may crop up, such as:
- taking deep breaths to clear your mind
- being your own cheerleader – “I’ve got this!”
- being realistic – “It’s just a ___. What’s the worst that could happen?”
If your child tells you they’re feeling anxious about NAPLAN, support them to try some of the coping mechanisms you find useful and just do their best.
NAPLAN assesses the literacy and numeracy skills kids are already learning in the classroom. NAPLAN doesn’t measure what makes your child exceptional and unique. It doesn’t measure how creative or innovative your child is. It doesn’t measure how well they can dance, sing, act, play soccer or football, how kind they are or how thoughtful they are. And NAPLAN doesn’t measure how your child’s school fosters overall student wellbeing and development. NAPLAN isn’t meant to measure any of those things! It’s a point-in-time assessment of a child’s literacy and numeracy skills – that is, a test that shows how a child performed on the day in these essential, foundational skills.
Every two years, when your child takes NAPLAN, you can see how their literacy and numeracy skills they developed and grown over time. Of course, your child’s teacher knows their learning best – but NAPLAN is a useful, objective check to see how your child is performing against national standards of literacy and numeracy.
Help them be comfortable
NAPLAN is moving from a paper test to an online test over a three-year transition period. This is the second year of NAPLAN being undertaken online, and approximately 50 per cent of schools will be participating in the online test this May.
Regardless of whether your child’s school takes the tests online or on paper, your child’s teacher will help them be comfortable with the format of the test. If your child is doing NAPLAN on paper, this might involve looking at example NAPLAN papers. It’s about your child being comfortable with the mechanics of the test and the types of questions (multiple choice, short answer, long answer, etc.) that may be asked. For Year 3 students, it might involve showing them how to correctly colour in a circle for a multiple-choice question.
NAPLAN Online isn’t a test of typing skills – and your child doesn’t need to touch-type to perform well in NAPLAN and Year 3 students will continue to complete the writing test on paper. If your child is doing NAPLAN Online, their teacher will ensure they are comfortable with the device they are using to complete the test; that is, knowing how to click and drag, how to type and edit text.
A unique feature of the online test is that it will adjust to your child’s achievement ability, giving more precise information about what your child can do, not just what they can’t. You can see a demonstration of the NAPLAN Online test on the NAP website.
Apart from the above, no other special preparation for NAPLAN is necessary or desirable. Practices such as ‘cramming’ and ‘teaching to the test’ at the expense of other areas of curriculum are inappropriate and not encouraged, as they don’t lead to sustainable learning. Also, there are myriads of NAPLAN prep books out there. None of those are encouraged, endorsed or developed by ACARA – so do your child a favour, leave those books in the bookshop.
Remember, NAPLAN is not a ‘pass or fail’ type test and doesn’t need to be studied for. The questions are aligned to the Australian Curriculum for English and Mathematics, meaning what students learn in the classroom is what they’re tested on in NAPLAN.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible for developing the Australian Curriculum, administering the National Assessment Program (including NAPLAN) and publishing information about Australia’s schools on the My School website. Visit the NAP website for more information about NAPLAN or sign up to our monthly e-newsletter Parent Update.