This quote is very topical in Australia at the moment with the recent release of the NAPLAN (The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) results for all children in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9.
The test ranks the student individually into a band 1 to 6 for four different Maths and English competencies and shows where that child sits in relation to other kids in the state and other kids in their school. As a parent, receiving this can give you some idea of what are your children’s strengths and weaknesses are in certain areas. For example, a friend of mine saw her daughter was weak in problem solving in her maths so she worked with her teacher to improve her understanding in this area. On an individual level, it does have some merit.
However, the real danger is two-fold. Firstly, it is used a league table to compare schools against each other. It assumes that all children are given the same opportunities in life, go to a similar school and compares apples with apples. Sadly, this is not the case. There are plenty of variations – public v’s private, rich v’s poor, advantaged v’s disadvantaged and the list goes on and on.
Secondly and sadly, NAPLAN is becoming the focus of what is taught at many schools. This resonates with this quote – ‘If the purpose for learning is to score well on a test, we’ve lost sight of the real reason for learning’. I was a school teacher at a school that amended their curriculum to teach specifically to NAPLAN. At the end of Year 2, they would hold a special assembly where Year 3 children would tell them about NAPLAN and what they could expect. The whole of Term 1, Year 3 was on learning for NAPLAN. This happened in Year 5, 7 and 9 also.
The children were being taught to do well on the test so the school looked good and achieved a certain band – this is the downfall. When we have gone so far as to teach to a test and not teach to the individual learning styles and differentiation of each child in our class – the education system is flawed. Of course this does not happen at every school. The next school I taught at did not focus on NAPLAN at all as they were assured everything on the test was already covered in their robust curriculum. So how is that comparing apples with apples from either school? For more information on NAPLAN, click here.
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About Anna Partridge
Anna Partridge is a writer, parent coach, school teacher and mother of three young children aged 9, 7 and 5. She is also founder of bombardedmum.com and runs parenting workshops about ‘Raising Confident and Resilient Kids’. Through her work, she is building a community of like-minded mothers who share the inspiration and challenges of raising the next generation. If you are a mum and need to find your ‘big picture’ of parenting or turn a frantic family into a fun family, click here to work with Anna.