Year 5 NAPLAN – What Parents Need To Know
The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, better known as NAPLAN is an annual national assessment program in which all Year 3, 5, 7 & 9 students participate in literacy tests covering reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation), and numeracy tests covering number, algebra, functions & patterns, space, measurement, chance & data.
ACARA, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority describes the purpose of NAPLAN as being “the measure through which governments, education authorities, schools, teachers and parents can determine whether young Australians are meeting important educational outcomes in literacy and numeracy. The tests provide parents and schools with an understanding of how individual students are performing at the time of the tests. They also provide schools, states and territories with information about how education programs are working and what areas need to be prioritised for improvement. NAPLAN tests are one aspect of a school’s assessment and reporting process; they do not replace the extensive ongoing assessments made by teachers about each student’s performance.”
The very mention of NAPLAN generates emotional responses from members of our community as wide ranging as from students to Prime Ministers. For Year 5 students who are old-hands and who already sat the test in Year 3, fear, dread, worry, concern, anticipation, eagerness, and excitement are some of the feelings they may experience. Parents, teachers, school and community leaders, may also experience these emotions as this compulsory national assessment is no longer an ‘unknown’ but something very real that has a vast array of effects on our students.
Regardless of which camp you belong to i.e. whether you are pro or anti NAPLAN, it’s important to remember that NAPLAN is here, and that schools must administer the test; so hence my first piece of advice to Year 5 NAPLAN parents especially, is to not waste precious energy worrying – firstly and most importantly it is essential that for the sake of our children we adopt and maintain a growth mindset around every aspect of the NAPLAN experience.
NAPLAN Growth Mindset
NAPLAN Talk: NAPLAN talk must be positive talk.
Yes, NAPLAN is a challenge for many of our students, but it is a challenge made more daunting and difficult because of the negative ‘air play’ we may give to it.
It is our role as parents and teachers to always be encouraging and to encourage.
Praise your child’s learning efforts today and every day.
We have all turned to a child and praised their intelligence i.e. their natural ability to know and do. Telling a child that they ‘are so smart’ can in fact be detrimental to their learning because they start to believe that they do not need to work hard to achieve; they avoid any tasks in which they think they might fail, and they increasingly perform poorly after failing. On the other hand, students praised for their effort learn to value the process of learning, and see work hard as the key to their success.
Watch, listen and praise your child’s efforts; by doing so you let them know that you value their hard work and hence when NAPLAN comes around they will hopefully go into the tests knowing that they have prepared themselves as well as they could.
Failure vs Challenge
Now I Know What I Need to Learn
I have not yet met a child who does not consider NAPLAN to be a challenge, but since when does challenge equal impossible and making a mistake mean irreversible failure? These definitions only exist for those who have a fixed mindset.
Failure = final, inability, non-achiever, defeated, inadequate, worthless, etc.
Who wants the lives of their children defined by such negative and soul destroying terms? If defined as a failure I would never try again.
But what would happen, if instead of talking about failure we spoke about challenge and what comes next?
Challenge = possibility, hope, awaken, kindle, rouse, inflame, defy, risk, etc.
Now I see my results not as an indictment of my worthlessness, but rather as an invitation (with directions) to meet, if not surpass my learning potential.
None of us know what will be on the test, and no one can teach to the test, but we can develop a mindset that allows us to approach, sit and review the test in a way that allows us to be our best, do our best and achieve our best.
By Catherine Lunney – Primary Learning Leader at Southern Cross Catholic College.