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NAPLAN – Test Preparation Recommendations and Expectations

Nov 8, 2022
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What is NAPLAN? 

The National Assessment Program:  Numeracy and Literacy (NAPLAN) is a test that students in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9 are required to take. It is conducted over three school mornings during the second full week of May. 

The test has been increasingly controversial over the last few years; teachers, parents, and students have marked it down as not being an accurate representation of what the children have learned. Teachers are concerned that time spent on preparing for NAPLAN is the time taken away from other subjects. Parents believe that the testing is too long and too intense for primary school children to handle. Students also feel that the tests are unnecessary because they do not reflect their knowledge level or ability to learn. 

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Some of these considerations have been addressed by making changes to the test format and providing more information about how schools can use NAPLAN results to assist with their teaching practices. However, these changes have not stopped the criticism against NAPLAN and its validity as a testing system for primary school-aged children. 

The National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) – Literacy and Numeracy is an annual test of literacy and numeracy skills that all students in Australia take. It aims to provide information on the performance of students, schools, and teachers. 

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How many tests does NAPLAN take? 

The content of the tests varies from year to year—in 2017, for example, the writing test was replaced by a non-verbal reasoning test—but in general, it’s designed to measure students’ competency in certain areas:  

Numeracy: Test questions cover skills such as spatial awareness, reasoning with numbers and data, and measurement 

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-Reading: Students read a range of texts, including passages and short stories. Test questions assess their ability to understand what they are reading 

– Writing: Students write short paragraphs and long pieces of creative writing. They also have to write an argumentative essay. 

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-Grammar and spelling: Students are required to fill out forms accurately, write letters and reports, understand sentence structure, use punctuation and capitalization appropriately, etc. 

Why is NAPLAN conducted?  

The Australian National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) is a testing system used in schools throughout Australia. It’s designed to measure the reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics skills of students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9. It has an exclusive NAPLAN preparation year 3 test and NAPLAN preparation year 5 test for students. Students are tested in these skills because they are vital for everyday life.  

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While NAPLAN test preparation is designed to assess these skills, the results aren’t only useful for teachers to manage student progress within their classrooms. It also provides valuable information for parents about how their children are performing – relative to other children of their age group – in reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics.  

Aside from being used to assess student achievement, the results from NAPLAN are also used to help develop and implement the Australian Curriculum. 

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What are some recommendations for scoring well in NAPLAN? 

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) are responsible for the NAPLAN test. They provide good advice on how to prepare for it, including this tip: don’t cram. 

  • It’s easy to see why cramming might be tempting, but there are a few reasons why it isn’t a good idea. The first is that ACARA advises against it. Their reasoning is that you want your child’s best performance on the day of the test, not just a strong performance when they happen to be reminded about the subject. For that reason, it’s better to ensure a steady and consistent study schedule leading up to the test.
  • Making sure your child has a proportional diet and gets plenty of sleep is also important for their physical and mental health on the day of the test. The last thing you want is for your child to get sick or lose their focus during the exam because they were too tired or hungry beforehand. If you have concerns about your child’s preparation, consult their teacher instead of trying to cram in extra study time at home.
  • NAPLAN tests are no fun for anyone. Children have to sit still and concentrate for long periods of time, which is a challenge at any age. While NAPLAN testing isn’t intended to be a high-stakes event, students, parents, and teachers can all learn some important lessons from these tests.
  • Excessive preparation isn’t helpful. You can actually make your child anxious if you make too much of the importance of NAPLAN tests. A better way to help your child with NAPLAN tests is to reassure him that they are just one part of his school program. If there’s something about NAPLAN that worries your child, talk through the issue with them and let them know what they can do to feel confident.
  • The best way to help your child with their schoolwork is by being a good example: Good study habits will ensure that your children are prepared for every test they take at school. By asking questions and showing an interest in what your children are doing at school, you’re showing them that learning is important in the world—and that you support their schoolwork.
  • As a parent, you’ve got good reason to be concerned about how your kids are doing in school. If they’re not as well-prepared as they could be for NAPLAN, it’s easy to feel that you could have done more to help them succeed.
  • But when it comes to NAPLAN, remember that it’s important not to overly stress kids out with test preparation. It’s better if they relax and just focus on thinking about the content of the test. They should practice skills throughout the year, but avoid cramming in information before the test. Their teachers can give you specific advice on how best to help them improve their reading, writing, and maths skills. And don’t forget—you can always ask for extra assistance or tutoring if your child seems like they need it to get through these tests.
  • Parents should take advantage of online resources to help them raise their children. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) offers a range of tools and information to assist parents in supporting students’ learning. ACARA has compiled some tips on how to support students literacy and numeracy development. You might also like to talk to your child’s teacher or school librarian about how you can help your child at home.
  • We can help students prepare for NAPLAN with practice tests, but there are important things to consider when choosing which ones to use. Since this is a national test that every child in Australia has to sit for, it’s important that your child understands what the tests look like and feels comfortable with the style of questions.
  • With this in mind, we suggest you only use practice tests that are endorsed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA)—a government body responsible for the tests. These free example question booklets show what sitting a NAPLAN test looks like and are a great way to get your student acquainted with the style of questions on it. If you’d like to go further than that, ACARA also sells copies of previous years’ NAPLAN papers. 
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