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Should you be worried about NAPLAN?

Children doing a test at schoolIt is NAPLAN time again this year.

In the second full week in May, students in Australian public and private schools, in grades 3, 5, 7 and 9, do NAPLAN. They are tested over three days.

NAPLAN tests skills essential for your child’s progress through school and life ahead – reading, writing, spelling and numeracy.

The official NAPLAN website can give parents far more information, and there are examples of NAPLAN tests should parents wish to show their children to get the ‘look’ and the ‘feel’ of types of questions asked.

But as a retired K-6 principal, who understands how families can become concerned, I would like to offer my reassurances.

This is a mock letter based on what I’d write to parents if I were still leading a school …

Dear Parents,

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, students will take part in the Australia-wide national assessment program more commonly known as NAPLAN.

We know that for some families these coming days of assessment will be ‘part of the week’ of schooling. For others, however, there may be some concern about how this all plays out.

The days of NAPLAN are ones where we ensure that all of the students are well prepared in terms of what they have to do and how to do this. We have carried out the practice papers in the lead-up but we do not carry out additional coaching nor place any particular expectations on your children.

We will ask that parents do not add to any of the possible ‘concerns’ for their children on the day, as these are normal school days next week. Getting them to school on time will be most helpful along with breakfast and a good night’s sleep.

Your child’s teacher will ensure that all is in readiness on the day but if you have any additional concerns, please let us know.

Warm wishes,

The Principal

My answers to common NAPLAN questions from parents

Do I need to worry about my child’s NAPLAN results?

When your child’s results are returned to you (in September I believe) and you see where your child’s progress is matched against the age/year cohort and there is nothing very different to what you already know of your child’s ability, then fine. IF you believe that those results are not a true reflection of your child’s ability and performance, then it’s time for a parent-teacher interview to find out why.

Will my child have to re-sit NAPLAN?

No one ‘re-sits’ NAPLAN because of results. However, within the week of NAPLAN a child who could not attend on a particular day, will be able to use the ‘make-up day.’

Is it true my child will need lots of practice in order to do well in NAPLAN?

The school will give your child some practice in ‘how to’ do the test. This is particularly with the younger children as they may feel it’s a lot different to anything else they’ve done. However, I never advise additional coaching, practice with a tutor, buying books and apps from educational re-sellers. Why? It’s become a market for those people to ‘sell’ products as a way of appealing to parents’ fears. Not recommended. It’s a stress no child needs. Nor their parents!

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