"Finishing NAPLAN: a parent's perspective
In this ACARA Update, we talk to Julie Sengelman.
Julie is based in Canberra and has a daughter completing NAPLAN in Year 9 this year. Her daughter is just one of thousands of Year 9 students who were the first group of Year 3 students to take the NAPLAN test when it was introduced in 2008.
In this chat with Julie, we ask her about her and her daughter's experiences in taking the NAPLAN test in Years 3 and 5 in NSW, and Years 7 and 9 in ACT. As you will read, Julie has found NAPLAN to be a useful tool in tracking her daughter's progress not only across the years, but also across states and territories.
It is important to remember that NAPLAN is not a pass/fail test. It simply looks at what level students are achieving in literacy and numeracy against national standards and compared with student peers throughout Australia.
The best way for those students taking NAPLAN across Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 next week is to relax and treat it as just another day of the school program; and for parents to urge their children to do the best they can on the day.
NAPLAN is coming up, how are you going to prepare your child for the tests?
A good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast!
Did Alex, your daughter, ever feel a bit nervous before the tests? If so, what advice would you give other parents who are concerned about their child sitting their first NAPLAN tests?
She never appeared to be nervous and treated it like a normal day. As a parent, you can either positively or negatively influence how they are going to approach the test. If you are relaxed about it and the messaging from the school is the same, there is no reason why a child should be worried about doing the test.
My advice would be to treat it as a normal day. What you want is to try and get a realistic picture of how your child is performing against their peers, so trying to prepare beforehand would be counterproductive.
This will be the last year that your child is taking NAPLAN. How has NAPLAN helped you track Alex's progress in numeracy and literacy across the years?
It has been really useful to see whether they were on the right track in school and whether or not there were any issues that needed to be worked on. If there was a difference in a particular convention from year to year, then it was useful to be able to go to a teacher–parent interview with questions as to why that might be the case.
Have you found NAPLAN to be beneficial in comparing your daughter's progress to that of her peers in their school, state and nationwide?
It has given me confidence that she is performing well alongside her peers and that there are no obvious issues which have been identified or need further investigation. Moving from NSW to ACT, I was interested to see whether the school performed differently and whether my daughter’s results were likely to change as a result.
What are the main benefits to you as a parent for your child sitting the NAPLAN tests?
As a parent, you have an idea that your child might be doing OK in school, but the NAPLAN tests put some validity around that, and give you a measurement tool to assess and track how they are going.
Anything else you would like to add?
As a Defence family member, I find that NAPLAN and the My School website are fantastic resources for parents when they are moving interstate, and a good starting point when looking for a school. Obviously, there is more to it than that, such as finding a school that will be the right fit for your child and talking to people in your new location as well as visiting a school, but it is a great place to start."