What to do now you have your child’s NAPLAN results

Remain calm and read on.

What is NAPLAN? It is a nation-wide test­ing of all stu­dents in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 designed to bench­mark your school and your stu­dent in Lit­er­a­cy and Numer­a­cy.

Is it a blunt assess­ment tool?

Basi­cal­ly as blunt as an axe. But even blunt axes chop wood.

On the plus side, the same skills are test­ed at increas­ing lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty every two years of your student’s edu­ca­tion. This means you can com­pare progress over time in each skill area.


Should I be concerned about my child’s results on NAPLAN? Yes and No.

On the one hand the results are only the results on the day of the test. You should look at all the avail­able feed­back of your child’s progress. That is, term and semes­ter school reports and par­ent-teacher inter­views, plus results of week­ly home­work and in-class tests.

In addi­tion to the con­text of all the avail­able evi­dence you can also ask your child how they feel they are doing. For younger chil­dren this might be along the lines of how much are they enjoy­ing things, what is their favourite, what do they like the least. Old­er chil­dren (from about 7 or 8 years) will be aware of how well they are pro­gress­ing com­pared to the rest of the class.

How is English assessed in NAPLAN?

Eng­lish is called Lit­er­a­cy and is test­ed in strands: read­ing, writ­ing and lan­guage con­ven­tions. Lan­guage con­ven­tions has two sub-strands: spelling and grammar/punctuation. Every­thing is marked out of ten.

How do we assess spelling?

In gen­er­al spelling is split into two skill sets: recep­tive and expres­sive. Recep­tive is where a per­son can iden­ti­fy cor­rect spelling in a text. Expres­sive is where a per­son can spell cor­rect­ly when cre­at­ing a text.

NAPLAN test­ing does not pro­vide as com­pre­hen­sive a method of test­ing your child’s spelling as class­room test­ing prob­a­bly does. Most pri­ma­ry stu­dents are test­ed week­ly for spelling and these results will show you more detail than a NAPLAN score.

What about the windows theory?

No, I don’t mean a com­put­er oper­at­ing sys­tem. I refer to the teacher-talk about the expect­ed time-frames for achiev­ing devel­op­men­tal mile­stones and aca­d­e­m­ic lev­els. As a par­ent I have lis­tened for sev­er­al years to var­i­ous experts telling me my child’s dif­fi­cul­ties will improve over time. It is indeed dif­fi­cult for a par­ent to take a ‘wait and see’ approach; par­tic­u­lar­ly when much research points to the pow­er of ear­ly inter­ven­tion. Often the prob­lems are hard to diag­nose ear­ly and only when a per­sis­tent pat­tern is estab­lished over time can a diag­no­sis be arrived at.

Trust your parental instinct

If your child is hav­ing prob­lems with read­ing, writ­ing, under­stand­ing ver­bal instruc­tions etc and your parental instinct is kick­ing in, don’t ignore it. First­ly, elim­i­nate all phys­i­cal prob­lems by get­ting hear­ing and sight checks. Keep a chrono­log­i­cal file and see if you iden­ti­fy repeat­ed prob­lems. Make sure all the basics are met regard­ing a good healthy diet, and reg­u­lar sleep times. Ask your teacher what you can do to sup­port your child’s learn­ing. Make sure you know exact­ly what the home­work is about and set up a series of short time slots for your child to com­plete it ahead of time. Check it over with your child so that they know you val­ue their effort.

What if my child just doesn’t like learning/reading/doing homework?

There are two aspects to this issue. First of all, why? Get­ting to the root cause of the reluc­tance is impor­tant. It could be that the stu­dent finds it too dif­fi­cult and would rather avoid a task than try and fail. If this is the case locat­ing the exact point of dif­fi­cul­ty is impor­tant so the con­cepts can be learnt pri­or to mov­ing on.

Sec­ond­ly, reluc­tance can also be brought about by a lack of expec­ta­tion, rou­tine, and work eth­ic.

Developing work ethic

Is there some­thing that is eas­i­er and more fun than doing home­work? If so, can this be set up as a reward for com­plet­ing the home­work? Hav­ing free time on the com­put­er for 15 min­utes for every hour of home­work is rea­son­able. Reward­ing after effort is more effec­tive than reward­ing pri­or to effort.

Developing Expectation and Routine

Where resis­tance to doing home­work has been a prob­lem, par­ents should get organ­ised, print­ing up a sched­ule when home­work will be done while a par­ent is avail­able. Short reg­u­lar times­lots that do not get changed no mat­ter what work best. The par­ent doesn’t have to be sit­ting down with the stu­dent but par­ents should be with­in sight and check­ing the home­work is done care­ful­ly. The TV and any oth­er dis­trac­tions should be off while home­work is being done.

Sched­ule home­work after a snack and before play­time, not late in the evening when every­one is tired. Some fam­i­lies sched­ule home­work for ear­ly morn­ing. Do not sched­ule home­work to be com­plet­ed in parent’s absence – rarely is it done to an accept­able stan­dard. Home­work must take pri­or­i­ty over every oth­er extra-cur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ty.

Teach­ers should be set­ting pri­ma­ry stu­dents’ home­work once a week. If your child says they didn’t get any, check with the teacher straight away. This lets your child know that you and the teacher have the same expec­ta­tion. In sec­ondary school, stu­dents will have a plan­ner-diary and an assess­ment cal­en­dar. Check in with your stu­dent once a week to make sure they are using the diary to keep track of upcom­ing due dates and work­ing steadi­ly toward com­plet­ing assign­ments. There is also a place in the diary to record grades and stu­dents should use this to enter each assess­ment item and track their progress. Spot check this to let your stu­dent know you are aware.


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