Were you worried about your child stress or anxiety levels during NAPLAN testing? You’re not alone.

Research by the University of Western Sydney has shown 40% of parents surveyed admitted their children had worrying reactions during testing.

I’m one of them. I watched my nine-year-old son endure the NAPLANs earlier this year and it’s convinced me Year 3 students are way too young for the exams.

I actually refer to them as CRAPLANs in my house.

NAPLAN testing was introduced as a way of developing a rating system for schools so parents can view them on the My Schools website. That way, when they are trying to decide where to enrol their children, they can make the best decision possible. Ideally, schools wouldn’t prepare for them at all and the testing system could just provide a snapshot of how the school performs on a regular basis.

Unfortunately most schools have engaged in competitive behaviour and aggressively do all they can to improve their results. The reason they are doing this is because NAPLAN results affect how much funding schools receive. BIG mistake.

Researchers have now warned against linking NAPLAN results to school funding.

“NAPLAN has become a high-stakes testing regime certainly to the extent that it is bearing a weight much greater than would or should be expected of what is said to be a simple tool for diagnostic purposes,” research director Eric Sidoti told

Our stressful and anxiety-ridden adventure with NAPLAN began at the cross country carnival. I was picking my son up when his teacher said, “I’m going to call you. It’s nothing serious.”


Immediately my mind started racing at a million miles an hour. It’s not serious but she has to call me? Is he in trouble? Has he done something? Oh no, they’ve only just realised he has a learning difficulty. He said something about our family that’s raised a red flag. He picked his nose. He broke something…

I walked away reluctantly and during the drive home tried to casually interrogate my son about how school was going and enquire (repeatedly question him) as to any issues that may have arisen. He shrugged and kept playing games on my iPhone, saying nothing had happened. School was school and he had nothing out of the ordinary to report.

The next day and still no call to put me out of my misery so I cracked and rang the school, asking to speak to his teacher.


“It’s nothing serious,” she said once again.

“Just spit it out for God’s sake,” I felt like saying.

She explained that Philip is doing well, he’s good at Maths, is helpful and such but he does struggle with worksheets asking him to discuss a question or topic.

“No worries,” I said. “We’ll do some at home.”

“Look at the NAPLAN website,” she suggested.

“Oh, okay. I’ll just write some myself.”

She then explained that with NAPLAN coming up it would be good to understand the style in which they would present their questions.

“But he doesn’t have to study for it does he?”

She assured me that he doesn’t have to prepare, despite mentioning NAPLAN several times during the conversation. Good, because my understanding is that NAPLAN is meant to assess the students so the schools can be graded realistically and the results shown on the My School website. It’s not something kids need to study for.

Still, the entire conversation got me wondering about the lengths some schools go to in order to improve their results.

I was contacted about NAPLAN asking that I have Philip practice tasks.

After he finished his final exam, his teacher called me and told me Philip had a meltdown during the English test. He had to answer the question, “Who is you hero?” He wrote down that it was his mum (LOVE HIM) and wrote a couple of sentences explaining why. A teacher asked him to try to write more in the ten minutes he had left. He then rubbed it all out and cried for the remainder of the exam time.

She warned me to prepare to see that reflected in his results.

When I received his NAPLAN results I was reluctant to open them. When I did, I was pleasantly surprised. He performed above average in the state and in many areas, he performed above average in comparison to his fellow students.

It was nice to read that but I would still prefer for Year 3 students not to have to sit them.

Do you think Year 3 students are too young to sit NAPLAN?