Today news broke that under a federal government proposal, all Year One students are expected to undergo national tests in reading and writing.
As a former primary school teacher, there is no doubt that something needs to be done about “stagnating” or “declining” learning standards in Australian schools.
But is testing six-year-olds the way to do this?
Minister for Education And Training Simon Birmingham believes so. When explaining why primary schools need this testing on the Today Show this morning, he said, “We know from the existing NAPLAN that around one in 20 children are not meeting the minimum literacy standards or skill sets when they get to that point.
“So it’s essential that we ensure children in those first few years of schooling are getting the extra help they need, if they’re falling behind, if they’re not responding appropriately to the type of teaching practices used.”
As someone who taught across Kindergarten to Year Six for three years in a public school well below the national average in Sydney’s outer West, I too agree that something needs to be done. But the panic around the idea of ‘national tests’ put simply, is completely overblown and unnecessary.
When the words ‘national tests’ are thrown around, our minds immediately jump to NAPLAN. We picture reams and reams of paper filled with questions and tiny little circles ready for shading. We see nervous students completing practice tests in their classrooms and studying past papers at home in preparation. We watch them wait for results to be sent home and the analysis of where your child sits against everyone else in their cohort.