NAPLAN is a standardised test for students that takes place throughout their early learning. The name stands for National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, and has been a significant part of the educational experience since its induction in 2008. However, questions surrounding the benefits of NAPLAN, and more blatantly, “Is NAPLAN important?” have been prominent, particularly in recent years. Hawkeye is going to clarify some of the concerns around the examination program and how understanding how your children are progressing can be a valuable tool to guide them through education and in later life.
What Is NAPLAN?
The NAPLAN program is a series of exams sat by students in years three, five, seven, and nine. Within the program, all students complete a standardised test in reading, writing, numeracy, spelling, and grammar and will receive a score within a single scale. Run by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), NAPLAN offers a measure of performance at critical points in time throughout a child’s educational journey.
These scores can be used to compare achievement across different areas of study and is also a valuable tool to track learning progression as kids advance through their school years.
NAPLAN has been run for long enough to identify significant trends in learning outcomes over time. Some argue that improvements have not been substantial enough to warrant the investment into the program; however, many states have made good use of the results to determine:
• How far or ahead their students are across the state and national average.
• Where more disadvantaged students are sitting across the board.
• Strengths and weaknesses in particular subjects and areas of study.
• Where schools and regions are experiencing high growth in results and maximising learning.
The Benefits of NAPLAN
For some parents, the benefits of NAPLAN are hard to discern. NAPLAN testing may seem like an over-the-top examination program that places unnecessary stress on students. However, the NAPLAN program is crucial to providing essential learning outcomes for students as they progress through school and offers clear indications of where learning needs to be improved in order to succeed in higher education.
Most educational bodies agree on these key benefits of the NAPLAN program:
1. Drives Improvement to the Education System
NAPLAN testing clarifies problems in school testing and education systems. By identifying patterns across cohorts as they move into senior years, the results of the examinations are able to see where weaknesses lie and are a catalyst for schools to evaluate potential solutions.
For education policymakers, the results of the NAPLAN indicate how well curriculums are being implemented and their effectiveness. It also helps identify how well policies are functioning that are aimed to increase the achievement of disadvantaged student groups.
2. Accountability for Teachers and Schools
NAPLAN results are also an indication of how well teachers and schools are delivering material to students. Given the substantial investment made into education by governments and parents, there must be ways of assessing how well the money is being spent compared to other schools and other states.
Without the information that NAPLAN provides regarding student performance, there is no other nationally-comparable metric before higher education to understand students' achievements in relation to others.
3. Increased Familiarity with an Exam Setting
Whilst the future of exam-taking may change in the coming years, as it stands, students in high school will sit a written examination to conclude their school journey. Exams can be an incredibly stressful time for students, so becoming familiar with the exam setting and focusing techniques are invaluable for later education.
4. Transparent Results
The transparency of the results enables parents and guardians to follow how students are progressing against the national benchmark. Parents and guardians can follow these trends to make more informed decisions about where to send students.
Do You Need To Study For NAPLAN?
NAPLAN is different to content-based tests that are unique to each school. The main response to “why is NAPLAN important?”, is that it assesses literacy and numeracy ability that have been acquired over a more extended period, under regularly scheduled learning. Educational bodies such as ACARA do not recommend cramming or extensive coaching for the assessment.
Moreover, advice from ACARA is that the best preparation for the exam should fall within the standards outlined in the National Curriculum. Ideally, daily teaching from a teacher should be sufficient for preparation for the NAPLAN, coupled with effective examination techniques.
Going too far with preparation for NAPLAN will often cause more harm than good for students, as it may increase anxiety and negatively affect their performance. NAPLAN should be a good chance for students to become familiar with an examination setting for later assessments in high school and beyond.
Is NAPLAN Important: Common Criticisms
It is important to realise that when criticising NAPLAN, take into account that NAPLAN itself is not to blame for improvement; the onus is on the schools and the system itself to fix issues that the assessment identifies.
Comments that the examination harms students are debatable; anxiety is experienced as part of any exam preparation, so linking it to serious mental health issues comes with serious implications.
Potentially, there needs to be a revaluation of how NAPLAN is used in schools. Still, overall the benefits it provides to educational bodies are too significant for it to be dropped altogether.
So, Is NAPLAN important? Just Ask Hawkeye Education.
At Hawkeye Education, we value the learning of students at all levels. Wherever you stand on NAPLAN, the importance of an education standard is important to have. At Hawkeye, we offer tutoring services for students to prepare for all stages of learning.
If you think your child might be falling behind on foundational knowledge, we are here to provide an encouraging and focused environment for students to receive the help they need. Even if you don’t think they are behind, Hawkeye can give further work for students that need additional work to what is offered at school to help them get ahead.
To see if the Hawkeye experience is suitable for your child or children, sign them up for a free one-hour trial lesson, where they can become familiar with our style of teaching and whether it will work for them. We offer tutoring across all year levels, including primary school, Year 7, and Year 8, to help students prepare for NAPLAN throughout their schooling. Register for a free trial today!