This morning, thousands of Australian students in Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine, arrived at school for their second day of NAPLAN exams.
Some, no doubt, awoke sick with nerves. Others reluctantly trudged to the bus stop, realising halfway that they most definitely left their pencil case on the kitchen bench.
A number of them were undoubtedly more concerned with what they were having for lunch than the first question on their reading test.
But – at last count – all of them survived.
Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and I discuss NAPLAN on the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
In an opinion piece for News Corp, Lisa Almond began, “Thousands of kids… woke up today not wanting to go to school. Not wanting to get up and put a uniform on and go and spend the day with their friends. They were too stressed out…”
According to Almond, that’s all NAPLANs fault. It puts “unnecessary pressure” on kids, she argues. Almond is eternally grateful that a letter from her child’s teacher got sent home, reminding him, “this test does not assess all of what makes you exceptional and unique.”
It goes on, “The people who score these tests don’t know that some of you love to sing, are good at dancing…” before listing just about every skill a child can possess.
That is true, of course. It would be very strange if a government sanctioned literacy test somehow gauged how well you could dance, or to what degree you were kind. A lot of things about ourselves cannot be measured, and that has been the case for as long as classrooms have existed.
— Kidspot (@KidspotSocial) 8 May 2017
But we sit and watch the kids who are good at dancing, dance.
We sit and listen to the kids who are good at singing, sing.
We stand and admire the kids who are good at sport, compete.
Yet when it comes to anything academic, we are very quick to alleviate any and all pressure. To downplay the importance of a test, lest anyone feel they’re just not good enough.
The general gist of the letter is that tests don’t really matter all that much, but I’d argue that they do.
Life is full of tests.
“We’re just teaching kids to be good at exams,” goes the oft-cited argument, as though that’s not a valid skill in and of itself.