For some states and territories, this week saw teachers and students return to the classroom to gear up for Term 2. As we’ve mentioned previously, the coming weeks are some of the busiest of the year and it pays to be prepared. Arguably the biggest focus is the NAPLAN (the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) testing period which spans from the 10th to the 12th of May. That’s why we’re bringing you a series of posts to help you prepare and gain a better understanding of what these tests involve.
First up, what is the purpose of NAPLAN anyway? Although it may seem like much longer, the system has only been around since 2008 – before then, literacy and numeracy testing was done on a state-by-state basis and lacked standardization between these areas. The NAPLAN tests were therefore put in place to help determine if students are performing above, at or below the national minimum standards in four areas: reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. This way, trends can be identified and any concerns can be addressed in future curriculum updates. Reports from these tests can also help teachers identify gaps in individuals or a cohort as a whole and work to address them in their teaching plans.
There is, however, some stigma around “teaching to the test” and whether instead, a broader teaching approach is preferred. No matter what your personal viewpoint on the subject, Pauline Holland, former teacher of 33 years and current publisher for Jacaranda, reminds us that the NAPLAN tests do represent one way to measure a student’s progress in the development of essential literacy and numeracy skills. Therefore, she suggests that teachers should ensure that students are familiar with the format of the NAPLAN tests to give them every opportunity to demonstrate improvement in these skills and to see tests as just one of many assessment tools.
What other tips does Pauline have for surviving NAPLAN testing? Tune in next week where we’ll be sharing what to cover in preparation for NAPLAN, both inside and outside of the classroom. In the meantime, let us know in the comments below how you’re getting ready.