Six questions to ask before NAPLAN week

NAPLAN testing is an important event in any school’s calendar and this year is particularly important as it is the last one before NAPLAN online is officially rolled out in school year 2017. While the move may be a year away, the transition is in full swing – pilots are being conducted and the National Assessment Program (NAP) for Civics and Citizenship is going digital this year. What’s more, students and teachers will be able to test drive the new system starting in the second half of 2016 when an online environment using the actual NAPLAN online assessment platform becomes available.

As with any major change, it pays to prepare in advance. That’s why we spoke with a few former-teachers to get their take on the questions that teachers and school leadership need to ask to ensure their infrastructure and people are ready, whether in an online or paper-based NAPLAN testing environment:

  1. Are teachers aware of their role and potential changes to the routine? For school leadership, it’s advisable to brief all staff about the timing and conditions of the upcoming tests so that supervising teachers know where to be in advance and other teachers know when the tests are occurring and can avoid disturbing those areas.
  2. Are students familiar with the types of NAPLAN questions? As a standalone test, the questions may vary from what is being studied in class. For example, Mathematics questions tend to be very diagrammatic whereas English questions are more comprehensive.
  3. Do students know how to complete an online test? Switching from paper may seem like a natural evolution – particularly for digital-natives – but answering questions in an online environment introduces behavioral changes that are easy to overlook, such as how to navigate, correct answers or mistakes and even submit the test. It’s advisable that teachers and students alike become familiar with an online assessment platform sooner rather than later.
  4. Does the network have sufficient bandwidth to handle simultaneous testing? There may be an increase in traffic so it’s important to test the school’s connectivity in advance.
  5. Do all students have the necessary modern hardware and browser and are they comfortable using their device? Students should be focused on their performance and not having to worry about software updates and other potential glitches with their devices.
  6. Are sufficient IT experts available to troubleshoot on the day? Extra staff available at a moment’s notice is a welcome relief when last minute issues arise.

Ultimately, having this level of preparation helps to remove unnecessary stress for students and allows them to perform their best while in test conditions. How does your school prepare? Do you have any pre-test routines? Let us know in the comments.

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