This is a frequently asked question at K12 Academy in Penrith. We hear parents telling us about how NAPLAN testing is stressing their children. They want to know how such tests can be useful.
The K12 response to this is to ask parents and students to look at NAPLAN tests in a larger context. It is a standardised test which means it is designed to measure certain attainment levels against a benchmark. When children do the NAPLAN test their performances are measured against every other student at the same year level in the country, the state, the region and the school. The key word here that we at K12 want to emphasise is performance. The standardised test is not about the child’s ability but about how they perform.
It is no different to your child running a 100m race on the school sports day. Some children win their heat and are chosen to run in a quarter final. Some will win this and qualify to run in the semi-final and then we get the eight finalists to determine who will win gold, silver and bronze. Sports days are like NAPLAN tests but for sporting performances.
Not many parents ask how sports days can be useful for their children because they know that participation is important. By taking part in the event all participants will get an idea of their performance levels. Some may not worry about this. But for those who want to succeed in the sporting field, they are given an indication of how much they need to improve to win their heats and qualify through all the rounds to get to the finals. They get to know how much more training needs to be done to beat the time set by the current champion. Until they tested themselves in the 100m race, they would not know where they stood.
In the same way, K12 Academy encourages the view that a NAPLAN test should be seen as an event to participate in so that an academic performance level can be determined in relation to other students. Students can gauge their current performance and take the steps to train harder and beat higher benchmarks. The NAPLAN test is an opportunity to train to win.
So to answer the question, for us at K12, the usefulness of the NAPLAN test is that it allows each individual to determine their current level of performance and use that as a springboard to higher achievements.
When children and parents see the NAPLAN tests in this way the stress of the test is removed. The test is an opportunity for students to determine where they stand against their peers and where they can improve. Some children may not succeed at first but with determination and regular training they become champions.
Unlike a sporting event, the good thing about NAPLAN tests is that there is not just one winner. Everyone who beats the standardised benchmark is a winner.
Embrace the NAPLAN test and be a future champion.