Over the last few weeks I have had several conversations with a good friend about her 8 yr old daughter. The first conversation was about the child’s distress that the only feedback she had received about her last piece of writing (a NAPLAN practice) was that the class as a whole had not done very well. The child fretted that she did not know what she needed to do better. The second conversation was that the class next door had been doing a lot of practice and she was worried that her class was not going to do as well. The third conversation was today. This usually bubbly little person was unhappy about returning to school last week because NAPLAN was going to be soon. What are we doing to our kids?
When Ken Boston (former hard core Director General of Education for NSW) stated that based on his recent experience in England, this type of high stakes testing “sucks the oxygen out of the classroom” , alarms bells should have gone off. Another observation has been from a teacher training institution, that sending student teachers into schools in Term 1 is now a waste of time as all the student teachers see is test prep and from beginning teachers I have heard such nonsense as ‘we have to do spelling for an hour a day to improve our scores’. We have lost the plot!
The Basic Skills Test (before NAPLAN) used to be a diagnostic test that provided the school with valuable information to review its teaching programs and to inform planning at regional and state level. That changed with the publication of league tables in daily papers and the comparison of schools on a single data set.
NAPLAN doesn’t measure what most parents value about their children; NAPLAN tells us what we already know – socioeconomically disadvantaged and indigenous students do not do as well; NAPLAN sells newspapers!
So for Holly – it is just another day with some special coloured paper to write on to make it a little more interesting. Your parents think you are the greatest kid in the world and no stupid NAPLAN result is going to change their minds.