NAPLAN – A Necessary Evil

Our 8 year olds will be subjected to their first pressure point in May – the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

Their maths will be tested on their understanding of eight different ways to add and five different ways to subtract, but the thrill of multiplying three ways or dividing is for the older year five children.

Before they sit the NAPLAN, they will be introduced to two different ways to write a text, either a narrative or a persuasive text. They will need to know both – but only have to write one.

Why? Why do we subject our small children to this amount of pressure to remember what to do and how to do it?

Our children are tested every two years, year 3,5,7 and 9 so that the Australian Government can send the results of the year 9’s to The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

*PISA is a triennial survey of the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds. It is the product of collaboration between participating countries and economies through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and draws on leading international expertise to develop valid comparisons across countries and cultures.

More than 400 000 students from 57 countries making up close to 90% of the world economy took part in PISA 2006. The focus was on science but the assessment also included reading and mathematics and collected data on student, family and institutional factors that could help to explain differences in performance.

In 2013, Australia’s 15 year olds ranked 13th in Reading, 16th in Science and 19th in Maths.
**The ACER director of educational monitoring and research, Sue Thomson – who wrote the Australian chapter of the PISA report – said Australia now has fewer top-performing students, and more at the bottom.
She said the reading results showed Australian students were illiterate in a practical sense.
“It’s not saying they’re totally illiterate or innumerate,” she said.
“But they don’t necessarily have the skills they need to participate fully in adult life.”
In past years, Governments have linked funding to NAPLAN results, but with the inception of the My Schools Website, schools are worried a low ranking will create a decline in pupil numbers.
Our little children are being put under more and more pressure at an earlier age due to a crowded curriculum. They have a shallow understanding of some things, but never develop a deep understanding of anything.
With this pressure, more children will fall through the gaps and as Sue Thomson said, if they don’t have the skills to participate in adult life and get meaningful employment, then where are we headed as a society.


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Marianne is a professional member of the Specific Learning Difficulties Association of NSW (SPELD NSW), a member of the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand and the co-founder of The Dyslexia Association Inc. Marianne is also the director of and Dyslexia Answered based in Sydney Australia.

Marianne MullallyNAPLAN – A Necessary Evil

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