This question is repeated in the heads of parents this time every year when the word NAPLAN is mentioned at the school gates.
NAPLAN – National Assessment Program – Literacy And Numeracy – is held annually in May. It is for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. All students are expected to sit NAPLAN.
Is NAPLAN compulsory?
NO. Despite the lack of transparent information to support this view, NAPLAN is not compulsory. On the NAPLAN website it reads; While participation by all students is expected, students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers. https://www.nap.edu.au/naplan/for-schools/student-participation. In a nutshell, if you object strongly to NAPLAN or fear your child may stress then please talk to their teacher about your child’s participation.
Are there legitimate reasons for children not to participate in NAPLAN?
If your child has a significant or complex disability, or is from a non- English speaking background and has been in Australia for less than a year, you can apply for an exemption. For exemptions in Queensland click here or for other states click here.
If your child has suffered a recent injury which may result in them being disadvantaged physically whilst completing the tests, provisions can be made to assist them (but not do the test for them). You will need to discuss this with your child’s school principal. If you want your child to sit the test but you are worried about their stress levels or anxiety then talk to your teachers about what support they might provide.
The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), on behalf of the Australian Government, design and administer the tests to see exactly how children are developing and performing in the writing, reading and numeracy domains. The tests have been designed to be neither pass nor fail.
What are the pros and cons of your child sitting the NAPLAN tests?
- It can measure a child’s performance compared to previous tests
- For individual students it can be used as a goal setting mechanism
- It can assist teachers in each school as part of an informal planning process
- NAPLAN can help schools to develop school business plans and can help to guide the allocation of resources
- Can assist the Government to direct funds to those schools with the most needs
- The tests are one part of an overall set of school assessments
- Just because students are in the same grade does not mean they learn at the same rate
- The same approach to receive the same results on a nation-wide scale as measured by age groupings is not always realistic
- Some schools may focus simply on getting borderline students ‘up to standard’
- NAPLAN doesn’t allow for parents nor the community to see there are many different factors influencing a child’s results
- It can place undue pressures on the students if they are not informed that it is only one part of a complete assessment process.
If you are unsure as to whether you truly believe that you child should sit the NAPLAN tests, the best thing to do first is to talk to your child’s teacher. They will be able to give you the best advice. Here are also 10 facts about NAPLAN so you understand what it is all about.
But it is also important to remind your child that NAPLAN tests are not the be all and end all of their schooling. Perhaps a gentle reminder to try their best, like they do in all schooling, is all that is needed to reassure them.