NAPLAN stands for ‘The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy’. Every May, Australian school students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 sit the standardised reading, writing, numeracy, spelling, and grammar tests.
A great virtue of NAPLAN practice tests is that each domain is scored on a single scale. Achievement can be compared across different school year levels, courtesy of a standard learning progression for all NAPLAN tests. This lets you analyse the learning growth of specific groups of students as they move through school.
What is Naplan used for?
There are many claims about the benefits of NAPLAN practice tests, each of which deserves scrutiny on its merits. For example, using Naplan:
- policymakers and researchers can better understand student performance to inform system-wide policies, support and resource allocation for schools
- teachers can use the data as a diagnostic tool to improve teaching in the classroom
- parents can make more informed choices about where to send their children via the My School website, which publishes school-level results
- parents have more information about how their child is progressing relative to others.
Why is NAPLAN undertaken?
NAPLAN is undertaken for several reasons, including public accountability for schools, teachers and students. It is a national assessment to measure a student’s skills in literacy and numeracy at the time of the tests. The results of this testing inform the government of each school’s ranking against national standards and the national standards compared to international standards. Parents can see their child’s level compared to the national standards and determine if there are any areas of focus in which the student can improve. Results from the NAPLAN practice test provide insight into what learning areas students are struggling in and where improvements could be made.
What are the positive impacts of NAPLAN on children?
There are some positives to NAPLAN. One is the opportunity for restitution for students. Teachers can use the results to support and build up students in areas they struggle like providing Naplan practice tests year 3 reading. NAPLAN requires schools to be publicly held accountable for their student’s learning and development, shown on the MySchool website. Governments identify the learning areas where states might be struggling and create strategies or policies to strengthen them.
What can you do to help your child before, during and after NAPLAN?
If one of your main worries is the impact of NAPLAN on your child’s mental health, there are several things you can do to support them. Firstly, positively discussing NAPLAN with your child allows them to view the testing positively. Studies found that students who experienced anxiety identified that their parents had a negative view of national testing and put extra pressure on them to achieve highly.
Secondly, discuss what NAPLAN is and what it is used for with your child. Explain to them that it is a series of assessments used to identify their reading, writing, language conventions and mathematics skills and that the government and schools use these results to identify where students need support. Most students complete the NAPLAN practice test in the weeks leading up to the NAPLAN assessment.
Students and parents can often feel anxious whilst waiting for the results of the NAPLAN tests. Schools between mid-August receive reports from your child’s NAPLAN testing to mid-September, depending on the state testing authority. You can reassure your child that even though the results identify where they are compared to national standards, they are only based on the student’s skills on that day and in specific conditions and do not represent their ability overall.