Students around Australia will take part in the NAPLAN testing program next term, but a growing number of parents feel that it that creates unnecessary anxiety.
The NAPLAN testing program will return for another year this term, aiming to collect important data that can be used by teachers to assess student performance. The NAPLAN tests are also marketed as a way of allowing governments to identify state-wide issues and provide additional support to disadvantaged students and schools. A growing number of parents, however, are expressing their concern about the impact of the tests on the mental health of students.
There have been calls not only from parents but also from teachers and former education ministers, to put a stop to the NAPLAN program. Dr. Rachel Wilson, a senior lecturer at the Sydney University School of Education and Social Work, has said that the tests simply aren’t the valuable resource they claim to be.
“There was a lot of rhetoric that suggested that NAPLAN could be diagnostic and used to inform teaching,” she said. “In practice, the test is not sensitive enough and the timing does not help teachers apply what they can learn from the test.”
One mum said she would not be allowing her son, who requires additional learning support, to take part.
“NAPLAN will do nothing other than damage his fragile confidence,” she wrote. “He’ll not be able to complete the tasks and we will likely get the inevitable results letting us know how behind he is.”
Worth The Stress?
There is evidence that some children worry that poor performance in NAPLAN may mean they “will never get a job, have money or buy a house”. Dr. Rachel Wilson believes that the use of the test results to compare students and schools has reduced its effectiveness.
“MySchool has…created downward pressure and stress on schools, students and teachers,” she said. Her colleague, Jim Tognilini agrees. “Schools are advertising themselves and selecting students based on NAPLAN results,” he said. “Because of this, NAPLAN has lost its credibility.”
NAPLAN has definitely copped its fair share of criticism, and it’s been proven time and time again that these sorts of tests don’t accurately reflect a student’s ability. With parents, teachers, and students calling for it to be abolished, perhaps it’s time to find an alternative…
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