Updated: May 30
NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) is an annual point-in-time assessment that occurs in Australian schools for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. The assessment measures students’ literacy and numeracy skills and helps governments, education authorities and schools to see whether young Australians are reaching important literacy and numeracy goals.
Our Early Literacy Experts Nat Brass and Sarah Hughes from SailAway Readers share their top tips for supporting your child during this time.
NAPLAN Test Preparation Tips
Understanding NAPLAN and its purpose can help parents to navigate how best to support their children. Knowing that the data gathered is intended as a barometer to examine trends in Australian student achievement over time, and for educational and government institutions to best determine how to distribute funding, may help reduce any pressure you or your child feels regarding their performance.
Promote a ‘have a go' attitude towards all learning situations. Research has shown that the more children understand that a brain is like a muscle that ‘grows’, the more it is used. The more children are celebrated and praised for effort and strategies (instead of intelligence or results), the more they tend to persevere and take on more challenging tasks!
Supporting your children's learning
Supporting your child throughout the year with their learning goals and general school experience will ultimately help them with their NAPLAN experience. NAPLAN is one small aspect of the school calendar that aims to test skills that develop and improve over time. Completing school-set homework, reading a range of texts with your child and discussing current events will promote ongoing learning.
Check in with your child's emotions
Check in with your child about how they are feeling. For some children, a test situation may bring up feelings of anxiety or nervousness. Discussing these feelings while maintaining a positive attitude can help alleviate them.
Managing the test day
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the independent statutory authority overseeing NAPLAN's delivery, explicitly reminds schools and families that NAPLAN’s administration each year in May should be treated as ‘just another day in school’.
Any preparation that takes place should be centred around how to manage a formal testing situation. This can include how the room may look and feel during the assessment, e.g. students remaining calm and quiet, working to a timeframe, what equipment may be required, e.g. headphones for online assessment, what to expect from the assessment format including how the questions will look, and how best to respond to a range of question types, e.g. multiple choice question or long and short answer options.
Trying to ‘cram’ skills and knowledge for an assessment of this type is not helpful.
Keep it light on the day! Have an early night the night before, a healthy breakfast, and arrive at school on time. Remember to wish them good luck!
Understanding NAPLAN test results
Schools use a range of assessment tools to determine how best to support students, both at a cohort level as well as individually. NAPLAN does not usually play a significant role in how your child’s classroom instruction is designed. Each school is different in how they approach collecting this information, so we recommend speaking with your child’s teachers if having this information is important to you.
Individual NAPLAN results are usually released Australia-wide in Term 3. Following that, the national report is released in December, providing detailed information for each year level, including gender, location, indigenous status and parental income.
Some aspects to consider and questions to ask yourself when your child’s results are received:
Some schools inevitably ‘teach to the test’, so depending on whether or not this is the case at your child’s school, their results may reflect this. It is important to remember that your child’s scores will be compared with some children who have been coached and others who have not.
If your child’s school report is not aligned with the NAPLAN results they receive, what does that mean? It is likely that feedback from ongoing schoolwork and assessments are a more accurate indication of your child’s ability than the results of one test. If you feel there is a disparity, trust your instinct and approach the school for a conversation.
Consider how your child approached their NAPLAN experience. Was it with confidence and an appropriate amount of investment, or some anxiety or lack of interest? Whichever their path, know that their results may also reflect their approach. Ask them how they feel about their result; this can give both of you insight into who they are as learners.
Finally, if there is any takeaway from this post, we want to remind our children that academic results never determine their worth. Our focus is firmly on who they are, how they approach their relationships and all the positivity they bring to our lives.
As classroom teachers, first and foremost, we developed SailAway Readers programming to reflect the importance of starting early, using evidence-based approaches to teaching the fundamentals of literacy. We invite you to explore our services.
Nat Brass and Sarah Hughes are the Parents You've Got This Early Literacy Experts. They are teachers who believe in evidence-based literacy instruction. They are passionate about starting early to support children to become proficient readers. They do this through running preschool reading groups, Kinder incursions, and one-to-one literacy support for children with specific learning differences. They work with parents and schools to help bring evidence-based instruction to life.
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