I’m not sure I’ve met any teacher who thinks NAPLAN is a fantastic assessment tool. It has its place, but I believe the government (and sometimes principals) put far too much emphasis on its importance and accuracy. This has led to cheating and bending of the rules, in fear of the consequences of poorly performing students and repercussions for us – we all know schools or teachers who do this!
How to survive NAPLAN season
NAPLAN season seems to last from March to May, quite a chunk of the educational school year! You’ll go mad, and your students will join you, if you focus too much on the tests.
Here are some tips to retain your sanity and that of the students too, whilst improving performance.
The lead up:
- Show examples of tests on the interactive whiteboard and talk through what it is asking. Do this once or twice a week, alternating between numeracy and literacy
- The language in the tests is quite specific – show children this
- Talk about how the tests try to trick you so you need to read the questions CAREFULLY to fully understand what is required
- DO NOT APPROACH FAMILIES OF LOWER ABILITY CHILDREN AND ASK THEM TO WITHDRAW. You MUST be guided by leadership and their wishes
- Read through all the instructions you will receive from your school’s NAPLAN coordinator. There’s quite a process and you don’t want to stuff it up!
On the day:
- Remain calm at all times. Children usually feel a little anxious about the testing process and will pick up on any anxiety you are displaying
- Remind children to read carefully, go back and relook at their answers and take their time
- Check a child has not missed a page. This is more common than you might think. Send them back to finish it during the test time
- Encourage them to have a go at ALL questions, even if unsure
- Do fun stuff afterwards
Understand this – it is not a disaster if your students perform badly. It is a reflection of a multitude of factors. Parenting, child’s ability, whether they slept well the night before, if they are anxious, your teaching, the teaching of all the previous teachers, the weather, if they are sick and even if they saw a miniscule spider crawl across their test. You have done your best!