Rose Pennington is a teacher, writer, trainer and a passionate and dedicated advocate of incorporating social and emotional learning as a priority across the school curriculum.
Most people you speak to who have anything to do with school age children have some sort of opinion about NAPLAN. For some, the results seem to be a useful way to compare schools against each other and for others a way to measure their child against averages. Others view the tests negatively and focus on the stress it puts students under, and question whether they’re worth it.
Teachers may appreciate the snapshot information the results provide, to identify common errors and the progress of a certain cohort through the school. They are less likely to enjoy the chat that surrounds it – I’ve even heard Year 2s cite the tests as a reason why they don’t want to start Year 3!
Some kids wear themselves out with torturous questions like: “Will the tests be too hard? What will happen if I can’t answer a question? When are the results out? Am I stupid???” I would be interested to know whether it is scaremongering older siblings that are inciting this fear, or if they are overhearing adult conversations about the topic.
It’s a mistake for parents to make a choice of a school based on NAPLAN results. If they really want to judge a school against another based on results they should be looking at the overall progress of the student body rather than academic scores. This is because straight achievement results simply reflect what students are capable of doing, not the potential that the school is likely to bring out in your child. A school that focuses on the progress your child can make, from any starting point, is the one that you want; they are the schools that will treat students as individuals and progress them at the rate that is appropriate for them.