WHAT IS NAPLAN?
NAPLAN is a standardised test; each child answers similar questions at the same time so they can be compared with each other. It is also intended to be diagnostic, meaning it identifies the strength and weaknesses of students (Syndey Morning Herald Online – 2019).
The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is a nationwide exam for students in Year 3, 5, 7, and 9. Over a 3 day period, students across the country are given the same exam at the same time, providing consistency and reliability in the exam. That means that there is little opportunity for cheating during the tests, which is always a relief! The exams are meant to see how a student is progressing in their education, and where a school, or even a class, can improve. We’re going to give you a run down on what the NAPLAN is all about.
Students are tested on 4 topics – Reading and Comprehension, Language Conventions, Writing, and Numeracy. Each paper has a set period of time to be completed in, and one ‘catch-up day’ is allocated at the end of the week for students who missed an exam. So don’t stress too much about missing one! Each paper is specialised to test different skills you child should have at this stage in their education, and place them within a band according to their performance against the rest of the students in their grade across Australia. There are 6 bands, which grow as a student gets older. For example, a year 3 student is measured on a scale of 1 to 6, as a year 9 student is measured on a scale of band 5-10. This means that a student in year 3 and a student in year 6 who receive a Band 6 have achieved very different results!
Here is a guide to what each paper consists of:
PAPER 1: WRITING
The writing section provides students the opportunity to get creative and think outside the box! Each year a new stimulus is crafted, prompting students to write either a persuasive or imaginative text. The stimulus differs between primary and high schools, however all schools across Australia receive the same stimulus within these categories. In this paper, students are tested on general aspects of writing such as spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. However, some parts of the marking criteria are dependent on the stimulus; a persuasive text should include language devices to influence the reader, while an imaginative text should establish a strong character and setting. A great way to succeed in this section is to read! By reading different text types (like novels, non-fictions books, and autobiographies) students are able to gain a broad understanding of structure and vocabulary, and are able to apply these concepts to their own writing!
PAPER 2: LANGUAGE CONVENTION
Language conventions is the only paper which assesses two distinct aspects of your child’s ability; their spelling, and their grammar and punctuation. The single paper provides a mix of multiple choice and written responses which prompts students to recognise and fix the faults the provided stimulus. This section prepares students for interactions in the real world by testing them on their writing etiquette, and testing their ability to recognise different meanings which can be derived from sentences. Encouraging your child to actively join conversations is a great way to prepare for this section, as the more exposure they have to the correct use of grammar and punctuation, the more likely they are to adopt it to their writing!
PAPER 3: READING
Reading is a particularly daunting paper in the NAPLAN; as most students are aware, there seems to be more things to read then there is time to process the information! The paper is comprised of numerous different texts of different types and genres to prompt students to use their analytical skills when deducing the intent of a text. Students may be given short stories, poems, advertisements, news articles, autobiographies, or even interviews to read and answer questions on! As the paper progresses, the texts and questions will become increasingly harder and more complex, so our advice is to pace yourself! If you’re a parent, make sure your child is aware of the time during the exam, and encourage them not to spend too long on any single question!
PAPER 4: NUMERACY
The Numeracy paper is derived from the Australian curriculum, and gives students a range of different questions to prove where their strengths lie in maths! From geometry to algebra, probability and problem-solving, this paper is designed to get your child’s brain working! This paper, similar to the reading paper, becomes more difficult as it goes on, and many students struggle to answer some of the final questions. For primary school students, the exam is entirely non-calculator, and is comprised of a mixture of multiple choice and constructed responses. High school students have two separate sections in their paper, consisting of a short non-calculator section, followed by a longer, calculator section. Be prepared, however, as the only calculator’s that can be used in the NAPLAN must be adhere to their guidelines and be approved by their board.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
So far, from all the NAPLAN papers, I have found Year 5 results to be the most important one because alot of high schools (both public and private schools) will ask for your child’s school progress report and NAPLAN results as part of their consideration whether to accept your child into their school. This means, good progress in the Year 5 NAPLAN will look favourably upon your child during the interviews.
Year 3 generally isn’t too important, however, for a small percentage of schools where demand is so great, that schools are forced to conduct their Year 7 entry interviews earlier – for some this happens before the Year 5 NAPLAN are released. So if parents don’t have their Year 5 NAPLAN results yet, what else would they ask for? That’s right. The school will asking for your child’s Year 3 NAPLAN results!
For Year 7 and 9 it isn’t as crucial as Year 5, however, if you are looking at transferring schools (higher selective school), you would want to show that you’re one of the top few students – so making sure your NAPLAN reflects that is also quite important.
For Year 9 NAPLAN, it is a good diagnostic measure for how well your child is performing. If you are finding that they are able to pass the Year 9 NAPLAN, then they will be fairly safe for the Year 10 Minimum Standard Literacy and Numeracy Test. If students do not pass this test, then we should be concern as they will not be able to graudate with the Higher School Certificate (HSC) until they have passed this test.
Ultimately, students should aim to do their best in these exams. They are a great indicator of how a student is performing across most individuals in the nation.
Good luck if your child is sitting the NAPLAN this year or next year!!