Preparing for NAPLAN and Tests

Do you or your child feel anxious about the upcoming NAPLAN assessments next week?

Below is a very interesting and well written article that you may like to take the time to read.

I’d like to thank Hannah Baker, a psychologist from Cedars Christian College in NSW for giving her permission to publish the article.

“Putting NAPLAN in its Place”

by Hannah Baker
Rightly or wrongly, there is a lot of hype around NAPLAN. For our Year 3 students it is their first experience of formal, rigid, national standardised testing, and the processes and formalities surrounding that can be a little daunting. For the Years 5, 7 and 9, although they’ve been through it before, it’s really the only situation they encounter before Year 12 in which they are compared on such a narrow focus area to same age peers across the country. It’s also a skill based test, which means that you can’t really prepare for it and what you will face is somewhat unpredictable.

There’s a lot of information available about helping your child achieve the highest score possible in NAPLAN. Today I want to challenge that type of thinking with three suggestions. I’d like to encourage parents to read through these ideas, and then find ways to discuss with your child their thoughts about NAPLAN coming up, so you can help to deal with any problematic thinking they may have developed.

Gain Perspective – you will not be punished if you don’t do well and it won’t change your marks at the end of the year. The purpose of NAPLAN is to help teachers understand what you already know how to do, so they can teach you the next step. It will show areas you need help in, and areas you are already good at. It’s not the be all and end all of school assessment, and sitting a test in itself cannot hurt you. It’s just marks on paper with a pencil after all!
View this as a chance to learn – There are many times in life that you will have to have formal assessments, like giving a speech in class, going for a piano exam or trying out for a sport team. Even adults go through assessments when they get a driving licence or going to a job interview. It may not be easy, but assessments are a normal part of life. You’re learning how to be an independent responsible person by learning what it’s like to take a formalised test, and how you cope with assessment– and that will be so helpful for you as you progress through school. Sometimes that’s even more important than the score you get!
You are more than a number – This test measures what skills you have in literacy and numeracy, at one particular point in time. We all have good days and bad days, and the day you sit NAPLAN may be a bad day for you. It’s not always a measure of what you can do at your best, it’s a measure of how you respond to a specific question under test conditions on a specific day.
It also does not measure what kind of friend you are, how much you like to sing or how good you are at sport – or any of the other parts of life. It doesn’t take into account any tough times you might be going through. This test is not a measure of you and your worth as a person, and so your marks are not a good way to determine what you feel about yourself. You are good at lots of things that can’t be tested. It might be helpful to spend time talking about, writing down or drawing ways you are valuable OTHER than how well you do on a school test.

You may have read through this list and while you agree, you feel that these ideas won’t be enough to help your child manage with NAPLAN this year. For children who are showing signs of being particularly stressed about NAPLAN, you may also find this article by Andrew Fuller, a leading clinical psychologist that works with many schools and communities specialising in the well-being of young people and their families.


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