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"My son's NAPLAN results changed the way his teachers saw him."

Last year, my son sat his Year three NAPLAN for the first time. Like so many things on the school calendar it just snuck up on me and before I could really protest it, it was here. I had put my objections to the test on the public record but that was my opinion of it, not my son’s so I let him decide whether to sit it or not.

His view was clear – “That’s not fair on everybody else if I don’t do it.”

He’s right.

standardised testing
"I haven’t always been a fan however I never expected the actual test would change my mind." Image via Getty.

The more students who sit NAPLAN in Years three, five, seven and nine, the more robust the assessment of critical literacy and numeracy life skills for individual students, schools, and communities as well as at a state and national level. NAPLAN exists to identify students who need extra support in getting their literacy and numeracy core skills up to speed as well as those students needing more challenges to keep growing into their potential.

Now as I stated I haven’t always been a fan however I never expected the actual test would change my mind rather than my son’s experience of it.

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I’m an active parent. I have active conversations with my son’s teacher right throughout the year. Education isn’t passive from this parent’s perspective. While I was getting great comments from the teacher, that feedback wasn’t reflected in the report card that came home. The report card showed a student nowhere near the level that I knew he was capable of.

Then he sat NAPLAN.

Is NAPLAN stressful or should kids harden up? Each year, parents complain about the stress NAPLAN puts their kids under, but is stress an important emotion to make kids familiar with? The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss. Post continues after audio.

His results were off the chart - literally - and reflected the capabilities that I knew he had.

The independent assessment provided through NAPLAN meant I could go back to his school and his teacher. Their initial response was, “Wow, we were surprised by his results.” It became their “a-ha!” moment and it allowed us to talk openly about the way they were tracking my son’s progress. In fact, it was such a powerful tool that I’m now getting independent testing for the years when he’s not sitting NAPLAN.

NAPLAN gave us independent, objective markers about our child’s learning which are so beneficial. The bench-marking it provides against other students from similar backgrounds as well as on a national basis is a powerful and important reference for me as a parent.

While NAPLAN is the only national, independent benchmark we have of how our children are progressing against their peers it also allows us as a school community to check in too. Sure, it’s just one part of the total assessment of a child but, given literacy and numeracy form the spine of the education journey, we need to objectively and independently track progress.

Is NAPLAN the be-all-and-end-all? Absolutely not, but then again it was never meant to be that. NAPLAN tracks progress in the core literacy and numeracy skills taught every hour, every day in classrooms across the country.

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