Why we don’t coach kids for NAPLAN at Victoria Carlton Programs

We used to do this and realised it was a form of cramming and not teaching.  Cramming does not work. Good teaching does!  NAPLAN is a national testing instrument that was full of promise but has not delivered.

Instead we see terrified kids, stressed parents and too often term 1 spent coaching kids for NAPLAN instead of teaching them.

Teachers generally, (for their own sanity), prefer to teach non- NAPLAN years.

Many of our enrolled parents are choosing to skip these tests as they are trying to build self-esteem- not rip it to shreds.

There is now a whole industry around NAPLAN. Parents and teachers buy access to websites for coaching purposes, buy books of NAPLAN style tests and even run “off NAPLAN year” testing.

Let’s get back to good, evidenced based teaching practices and allow teachers the right to test their own children and evaluate their progress. (Something they are trained to do!)

NAPLAN funding could be put into providing extra teaching assistants to ensure children at risk get the help they need BEFORE they fail a test that has unproven efficacy!

Read this for a balanced perspective:





Whether or not you agree with NAPLAN- it is arriving next week!

These tests are given to provide a snapshot of a student’s academic skills and the results help schools determine the effectiveness of their programs and the specific needs of their students.

Some children enjoy tests and many do not.

We have found many of our students are over-concerned and we know that stressed students are more likely to fail. This is the reason teachers and parents need to stay calm and help kids to de-stress.

Simply tell your child you know they will do their best and if they have problems you will help them and so will their school.

Don’t try to second-guess what might be in the test. It is far too late for that!

Now is the time for calm and focused thinking. Your children need good sleeps, minimum screen time and plenty of exercise.

Above all they need your calm attitude and a little fun! Laughter is excellent to lower stress levels and help children to stop worrying. No amount of worrying will help children to get better scores.

On the day of NAPLAN make sure your children eat a nutritious breakfast, get to school on-time and have a healthy packed snack and lunch.

They will probably want to chat to you about the tests after school but if not, just leave it be! They need a little down time to process and it is far better to simply continue with usual daily routines.

When you get the results, please do not stress if they are not what you expected. If your child gets nervous during tests they may make many mistakes and not really show what they can do.

Stay calm and congratulate them on pleasing results and tell children you will make sure they get all the help they need if the results are not good.

Remember-NAPLAN is just one measure of progress. Their teachers are also keeping dated samples of work, test results from class tests and observational records to make up a far more comprehensive picture.

Above all, help children to celebrate all their successes as well as difficulties and to let children know that their mistakes are simply signposts to success!


Another brick in the wall?

Robot child reading a book.

What sort of an education do we REALLY want for our children?
Maybe it’s time to listen to the Pink Floyd song again but this time really listen!

Do we really want to turn our kids into robots or “just another brick in the wall?”
There are clear choices:
Choice A: Do we want happy, well rounded kids with high emotional intelligence and a wide range of talents and interests? Do we want kids who will become life-long learners? Do we want kids who love reading and love to express themselves in writing and enjoy the elegance and challenge of mathematics?
Choice B: Or do we want kids who just regurgitate facts like trained seals and do not know how to think or even have anything to think about?
Most definitely the British and Australian Governments are choosing the latter and this will have hugely negative effects on children’s well-being and ability to think, create and dream. We are in effect, once again abolishing childhood!
This is a really interesting article about the British Government trying to adopt a more test oriented approach to education- somewhat like the Chinese one; and strangely, at a time when China is moving away from this because it simply does not work!
The Australian Government is doing exactly the same. It has used the big NAPLAN stick to try to beat schools into some sort of results driven shape and reduce them to the type of school written about in Dicken’s Hard Times.
“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”
― Charles Dickens, Hard Times
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Children CAN learn the basic literacy and numeracy skills without the hugely expensive and inefficient NAPLAN process.
I don’t think all testing is wrong. As teachers we need to be aware of levels, learning styles and have practical plans to help ALL students reach their potential. However, teachers need to be given the tools to teach effectively, the resources and mentoring they need and to be trusted to get on with the job!
Term one in many schools is now given over to the new subject: NAPLAN! Kids do long, boring tests that effectively teach them how to pass tests but not much else. This means that 4 terms of work have to be crammed into the three remaining terms. No wonder teachers are tired, stressed and unwilling to teach the NAPLAN years.
We have to wake up from this soporific educational haze and look at what DOES work. I for one am sick of all the sycophantic praise given to Finland’s education system (one that DOES work) and then watching the Aussie Government totally ignoring good practice and reverting back to the big stick of testing!

Now the problem with standardized tests is that it’s based on the mistake that we can simply scale up the education of children like you would scale up making carburetors. And we can’t, because human beings are very different from motorcars, and they have feelings about what they do and motivations in doing it, or not.

Learning happens in the minds and souls, not in the databases of multiple-choice tests.
Sir Ken Robinson


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