This week, thousands of students in Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine, sat The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) exams.
Before they began, numerous schools all over the country sent letters home, reminding students, “This test does not assess all of what makes each of you exceptional and unique.”
Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and I discuss whether NAPLAN is unnecessarily stressful on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
The letters, which largely followed the same format, tell students that these tests don’t know, “that some of you love to sing” or, “that you are caring, thoughtful, and that everyday, you do your best.”
The full letter reads as follows:
— Kidspot (@KidspotSocial) 8 May 2017
But, here’s the thing.
Life is full of tests and insisting that they are inconsequential isn’t doing students any favours. Sometimes, we need to work hard under pressure. Sometimes, we need to perform. Sometimes, we need to complete a task in a set amount of time and we will be evaluated on it.
Sometimes we feel stressed and worried, and have to sit with discomfort. By being prepared and doing our best, we learn that those feelings will pass, and life goes on.
I’ve made some amendments, and perhaps this is the letter students should have received:
This week you will sit your Naplan tests. Before you take this test, there’s something very important we need you to know.
This test reminds you, that sometimes to the government, you’re just a number. And the government doesn’t care about your dreams.
The people who score these tests don’t know that some of you love to sing, are good at drawing or play soccer. And they don’t care. Because that doesn’t even remotely matter right now.
They do not know that you help your mum and dad, or can teach someone to use a computer program. Mainly, because there is no way to quantitatively measure a skill like that, so that information is useless in a test setting.
The scores from this test will tell you how you did on the day, but will not tell you everything. Because that’s not how tests work.
So just sit the goddamn test and get on with it. Shhhh.
Failure hurts. Get used to it – it will become very familiar soon enough.
You are very special, but so is every other kid sitting NAPLAN. Remember that.
Best wishes from someone who once worked in a school, and discovered that you are all far more resilient than you think.
It might sound harsh, but there are many, many days we wake up in the morning and have to do things we do not want to do. Discovering how to get on with it and put things in perspective are two of the greatest lessons kids can ever learn.