Parents and kids have nothing to fear from NAPLAN. In fact, we’ve got everything to gain from finding out how are kids are faring at school.

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke

Teachers and schools doing their job well should also welcome NAPLAN, which is the national literacy and numeracy test given to kids in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. So why are so many educators trying to scare parents into thinking that standardised testing is a bad thing?

It makes me think some schools don’t welcome the accountability offered by the most rigorous national testing regime we’ve seen in decades As a parent, I want to know how my kids are shaping up against other kids in their class, in their school, and across the country. I also want to know their teachers are doing a good job, and I think NAPLAN helps us keep track of this.

I know sitting the NAPLAN test can be stressful for kids. But so what? Life is stressful, and they may as well get used to a little bit of pressure.

My son sat the grade three NAPLAN this year for the first time. In the weeks leading up to the test he talked about it quite a bit, clearly mindful of its importance.

He was nervous but I thought this pressure was good for him, and liked the rigour offered by the good old-fashioned exam-style testing.

There has been a lot of scare-mongering in recent days about NAPLAN.

Sure, there are some teachers who are clearly taking NAPLAN too seriously, and stressing their students unnecessarily as a result.

But these are in the tiny minority.

A recent University of Melbourne study of 8300 teachers found 40 per cent said most of their students had concerns, and half thought some of their students had concerns. The most common reaction was that kids were stressed – but isn’t this fair enough? A bit of stress every now and then is good for kids.

It is more worrying that some teachers reported kids crying and getting sick on test day, but again, this is a very small percentage.

Surely the problem in these instances is more about the approach of the teachers and schools, not the actual testing regime itself.

The same study also found 40 per cent said their kids were looking forward to NAPLAN. Another common criticism is that teachers are spending too much time “teaching to the test”.
I have a problem with teachers spending endless weeks and months on nothing but test preparation.

But this doesn’t seem to be happening.

The University of Melbourne study found half of the teachers got kids to practice three times in the weeks before the test, another third more than six times, and 13 per cent not at all.

This seems reasonable to me.

The same study found that in many schools, NAPLAN is only a “minor distraction”.

In any case, take a look at some of the practice tests on the NAPLAN website, and you will see it’s not a bad “distraction” for kids to have.

The skills and information tested is very useful.

In the literacy test, kids are given a range of different pieces of writing, and are asked to analyse them.

In the numeracy one, there’s a range of practical, commonsense maths problems. I have no problem with my kids spending their time doing school work like this.

Educators keep telling us that kids shouldn’t spend their time on endless NAPLAN preparation at the expense of “rich and important areas such as history, geography, physical education and music”.

Yes, these are important topics for kids to learn. But being able to read, comprehend a piece of writing, express yourself clearly, and have a good mastery of basic maths is even more important, I’d argue.

A broader criticism of NAPLAN is that bad results could have a detrimental effect on staff morale, the status of schools, and student well-being.

Well, of course. This is what happens to any organisation exposed as failing in its basic duties – and schools should be no different.

As long as the results are used to improve things that need to be done better, there should be no problem.

We don’t want kids to feel bad for being below the national average, but we need to know how they are going in order for them to improve.

Critically, any results must be used to boost struggling kids rather than punish them.

As a parent I want to know if my kid or my kids’ school are not up to scratch. We shouldn’t be allowing schools to shy away from bad performances. We may also gain some valuable information about what more we can do to help our kids at home.

Again, it seems to me that the bigger problem is schools and teachers who say they wouldn’t do anything about bad results.

The University of Melbourne study found less than half of the schools surveyed used the NAPLAN results to identify weakness and make improvements to teaching practice.

This seems ridiculous. In my opinion, the problem is not the NAPLAN testing itself, it’s educators who don’t want to be accountable to students and their parents.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

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    • Davop says:

      12:25pm | 27/11/12

      If you dont know how your kids are going at school without NAPLAN then you are clearly not taking any interest in their schooling.

    • Chris says:

      03:15pm | 27/11/12

      What a ridiculous comment. Of course I know how my kids are going but I have no idea how they are going as compared to any benchmark. NAPLAN is fantastic as it gives a parent this type of general guidance and comfort.

    • AEU Spambot (on secondment from the ALP) says:

      12:28pm | 27/11/12

      But Susie, NAPLAN prompts schools to ‘teach to the test’!

      It is horrifying. Kids may learn basic literacy and numeracy skills without receiving a holistic subject experience. (Whatever that means).

      After all, we can all agree that our education system is all about creating innovative life-long learners. Who cares if they cannot read or write? That is what the parents are for!

      BTW, we should hire more teachers and scrap any form of accountability. You know it makes sense.

    • Rose says:

      12:28pm | 27/11/12

      Most of what you’re saying is fine, but I do have my concerns. Struggling schools, that is schools in disadvantaged areas must not be disadvantaged by lower than average scores.
      The only way that NAPLAN is going to be effective for them is to measure the difference between results in one year to results in subsequent years.  Has the level of literacy and numeracy for this group of students improved? If not, why not? What conditions at the school are impacting on learning? What can staff do with the resources available?
      NAPLAN doesn’t really answer any questions, it just lets us know what questions we should be asking, it’s the start point, not the end!!

    • Pattem says:

      01:54pm | 27/11/12

      @ Rose, +1

      NAPLAN is basically an audit to identify shortcomings to them help put in measures to overcome them.  Audits are rarely, if ever, about finger pointing; they are about continuous improvement.  If teachers are under the impression that their reputation and/or abilities are in the spotlight, then NAPLAN has not been promoted properly.

      If students are receiving a proper education in the first place, then a NAPLAN test will not be a problem.  This is because it is a Skills Assessment, rather than a Content Assessment.  The only type of “study” required should be to familiarise kids with how to test works.

      If a result indicated that School A contains underperforming kids, then the outcome should be one of “Okay, this school needs some attention in order to HELP it better equip its kids with basic literacy and numeracy skills.”  It should not be a case of: “Naughty school, naughty teachers, why haven’t you been doing your jobs?  So Bad, la!”

    • Rose says:

      04:02pm | 27/11/12

      You completely misunderstand my point, I’m saying it should be all about understanding why particular schools are struggling, and even what it is about schools that have great results that allow them to succeed. If you look at a particular school’s Year 3 NAPLAN result, you’re just getting a snapshot of what’s going on. If you then track them to Year 5 and Year 7, you can then see if there is improvement and how much.  If there is little to no improvement, you can then look at the school and ask what the resourcing is like, what the school culture is like, are there any socio-economic or other community issues that could be understood and addressed. It’s all about using NAPLAN to understand and work with schools to improve outcomes. I never suggested finger pointing or apportioning blame, just working toward improvement. Mind you, accountability should never be viewed as a bad thing either. Like all professionals teachers shoul always be working to improve their knowledge and skill sets, I know most most definitely are, but those few that aren’t should be held accountable. Again, that is not necessarily about finger pointing, it may simply be about ensuring teachers have access to training and development opportunities.
      Not everything is about apportioning blame!!

    • Ten67 says:

      04:35pm | 27/11/12

      what you are saying is true. In NSW teachers and schools have access to data that allows us to track they progress of a year group, a class and individual students. We know what they did well in, the questions they didn’t do well and why. It even shows the improvement of the student from their last test and if the improvement was the same or better with students that scored the same as the last NAPLAN.
      Having said that NAPLAN measures basic skills and is only a snap shot of what is going on. Students do well or poorly for a whole range of reasons.
      On a another note I look forward to the testing of parents on how well they prepare their children for school. The results can be published on a website. Some will be surprised how they are doing. Like the mother who sent her Yr7 son to school with a 1.25 litre bottle of ‘V’. She couldn’t understand why the school called her up.

    • Pattem says:

      06:36pm | 27/11/12

      @Rose and you seem to miss the point that I am agreeing with you.  If you look at the opening of my final sentence I use IF so it is a hypothetical statement not one suggesting that you are making that statement. My overall point reiterates yours: that NAPLAN is an audit and should be seen as an effort toward Continuous Improvement. .

    • S.L says:

      12:32pm | 27/11/12

      My 8 year old was having nightmares before the NAPLAN test. The teachers drummed into them constantly about doing well. She was actually physically sick the morning it all started.
      Is it a bad thing? In that context YES!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Loxy says:

      01:27pm | 27/11/12

      S.L it’s not the test that is bad it’s your kid’s teacher that’s the problem.

    • Lill says:

      01:27pm | 27/11/12

      Exactly. My little cousin was the same. He had an anxiety attack on the day of the test and held his breath until he passed out because they had been lectured over and over again how important they were.

    • martinX says:

      01:38pm | 27/11/12

      “The teachers drummed into them constantly about doing well.”
      You need to speak to your daughter’s teacher and, if that fails to get results, your school’s principal. This is the problem, not the test.

    • Black Dynamite says:

      01:40pm | 27/11/12

      Your 8 year old just got a taste of the real world, with your support they will get through this sort of thing fine and they will have grown from the experience able to handle the challenge better next time and take on bigger challenges in the future. Hardly seems like something unexpected at a school.

      Black Dynamite.

    • Stuss says:

      01:41pm | 27/11/12

      S.L. Yes, that is a bad thing, and terrible for your daughter to go through. But I also think it kind of illustrates susie’s point - that the test itself is not necessarily the problem, but the teachers’ attitude and approach to it is.

      I wonder if she would have been less stressed if the approach from the teachers had been more to tell the students that it was important, but not the end of the world, and that the results would allow the teachers to see their strengths and weaknesses so they could work with them better.

    • YaThink says:

      02:02pm | 27/11/12

      Yes, but that is the teachers fault.  They are not supposed to be pre-testing daily for Naplan, that is rubbish that comes down on Teachers from Principals. 

      That is where Naplan is going wrong.  Principals are so scared of looking bad they put pressure on Teachers to get good results and it defeats the purpose of the exam.  The exam is just to see where the kids are going, where they missing out and what extra work needs to be done.  If Principals actually gave a rats about the kids learning they would welcome that knowledge, not try to cover it up.

      It is a bit like the so many Private schools where the year 12 students get so much testing & help so that they get good OP scores, so the school can brag about how many high OP’s they have, BUT, the stats for these kids bumming out of Uni in 1st or 2nd year are very high, due to the fact that it was really a forced result as the kid had too much help getting the OP in the first place and therefore was not prepared to learn on their own.

      I know at my child’s Primary school Naplan showed some poor results in certain areas, luckily the Principal was not an idiot, used that information instead to get more funding for extra teachers in that area and 3 years later the results were much better.  That is what Naplan is supposed to be for!

    • glenm says:

      04:59pm | 27/11/12

      @ YatHINK,  Its not the teachers fault or the principals, that Gillard created the stupid schools watch website so that Naplan results would be used to benchmark school and teacher performance. Its pretty easy to understand the pressure on teachers to as a result teach to the test.
      If you want to lay blame you need to look for the root of the problem not the consequences.

    • Don Paul says:

      12:36pm | 27/11/12

      As long as parents don’t blame the results of the NAPLAN entirely on the parents, that’s fine. But they will, it is very difficult for a biological parent to admit any responsibility for a fault in their genes as manifest in their offspring.

      And political correctness will make sure they continue to do so at the teachers, and childs expense.

    • Don Paul says:

      01:20pm | 27/11/12

      “As long as parents don’t blame the results of the NAPLAN entirely on the TEACHERS”

      That should say…

    • the moor says:

      12:39pm | 27/11/12

      Teachers are frustrated by the unfair judgements made on schools and themselves because of NAPLAN.  It is a crude method of measuring student performance that doesn’t properly take account of cohort characteristics and social disadvantage.  It is also too easily rorted by schools through arranged absenteeism of students on testing day and/or getting rid of students who are likely to under perform.  For many schools fear of the judgements has meant less caring for their less capable students.

    • Murray says:

      12:42pm | 27/11/12

      NAPLAN results do highlight clusters of students whose performance, compared to the best students in the country, is poor. This has been known for a long time before NAPLAN came along. The problem isthat the massive investment it takes to overcome the social inequity behind these results has not been forthcoming. The challenge for people concerned about the results revealed in NAPLAN is whether or not they will support the Gonski recommendations which will go some way to investing in the futures of these most needy students.

    • Peter says:

      12:53pm | 27/11/12

      Let me guess: you’re little darling did well in the Naplan tests.  Ergo, there’s nothing wrong with them (that is, until/unless my little darling does poorly).  The world is too full of ignorant hypocritical opinions such as the one expressed in this article.  Can we not hear from someone who actually knows what they are talking about?

    • Victor Gruen says:

      01:33pm | 27/11/12

      My little darlings do well every week and have a good report card. I have no idea how they did in NAPLAN - individual results are not released. The school did just fine. If the school didn’t do fine, the principal would be called to account, and then the teacher’s would have to respond.

    • Millsy says:

      01:00pm | 27/11/12

      Teachers at well funded and selective schools have nothing to fear from NAPLAN. The problem is when poor scores are linked to school funding (in a bad way) as they often seem to be, by politicians wanting to look tough on “underperforming teachers”.

    • Jess says:

      01:09pm | 27/11/12

      There was literacy and numeracy testing at a state level before NAPLAN. It’s how the results are used that are the problem. Parents, schools and education departments should get the information in differing ways that’s suitable for purpose. Using NAPLAN to to compare schools under differing curriculum and across the differing social and economic spectrum doesn’t work. It also doesn’t have cohort analysis in it which is the measure.

      If you want NAPLAN to be used for teacher analysis it would have to be held twice per year (at the start and the end of the year) for each grade. (Assuming that you would want to be using student progress as a measure) but then there would have to be a different test each year for each age group.

    • Big Jay says:

      01:46pm | 27/11/12

      “It’s how the results are used that are the problem” ...Pretty much.

      I support standardised testing actually, but “high stakes” testing IMO is not good. Using it for league tables, for some of teachers KPI, or allocating funds will do nothing to bring about better education and encourage dysfunctional behaviour like teaching to the test (at the expense of other education), teachers actually cheating the test themselves and so on.

    • glenm says:

      01:12pm | 27/11/12

      SUSIE,  The Naplan tests were originally designed to identify children falling behind and where additional resources were required. The problem is the Gillard government has deccided to use this data to identify underperforming schools/ teachers and link it to school funding. As a result teachers and principals are put in the position of needing the children to perform well and thuis teaching to the test is a great way to artifically increase results in a narrow band of knowledge. Had the tests been left alon to do the job teachers could teach the curriculum and allow the testing to identify the children that need assitance. The children that need assitance now are being asked to sit at home or are coached to perform well in a one of test, effectively masking accurate assesment of ability.
      Using these tests to assess teacher performance is a flawed approach and it is not doing anything to advantage our children.
      As DAVOP noted above if you want to know how your children are doing in school the best way is to take an interest your self. I know from looking at the homework tasks each week the areas my children need assitance in , I dont need NAPLAN for that.

    • Xar says:

      01:16pm | 27/11/12

      have you even bothered to read the concerns of those opposed to Naplan, because this reads like you didn’t bother at all? The lackluster points you raise have been answered repeatedly, there is a wealth of evidence used in making criticism of naplan and you might know it if you have bothered to find out why people object rather than assuming you knew. clearly you have homework to do before the next article.

    • Chris says:

      03:22pm | 27/11/12

      Well, the article seems to counter most of the opposition arguments pretty well… it is just that it didn’t take them seriously. On balance, I think that is fair.

    • Michellemac says:

      01:26pm | 27/11/12

      I like NAPLAN for the reasons you outlined above. My son sat his first NAPLAN this year and the results were the first indication I have had that he is very smart. Until this he’s had great feedback from his teachers but I had no idea where he sat in the rankings in his class/school/compared to the rest of the country and I like to know.

      I do take issue with what you said about low morale in schools with poor results. These school should be ‘exposed’ for failings or measured again year on year improvements (I genuinely thought this was what NAPLAN was for??) and to go one step further,  I have always thought this is a way to incentivize good teachers into rubbish schools. But unlike commercial enterprises, if these schools are failing, we can;t just shut them down or let them perform poorly.

      This is the reason I like NAPLAn as a whole - expose the good teachers, use the results to pay them according to results they achieve. I work in sales and I am paid soley on the results I achieve, yes, it’s a blunt stick and there are lods of variables - difficult market conditions, client allocation amongst the team….these arguments have some merit but ultimately I am there to sell stuff regardless of what is happening or my business closes, ultimately the teachers are there to teach stuff .... but what are the consequences for poor performance? And the ‘consequences’ for good performance for teaching seem to be moving to the state schools in high socio-economic areas or the private sector…where as my career has progressed I get the harder (larger) clients with the biggest potential for financial rewards and personal fulfillment…

    • Murray says:

      01:50pm | 27/11/12

      Michellemac, you have highlighted the difficulty in using the tests to measure teacher performance. I really think sales figures are a very different situation and that policy for the vital service of education should not be determined using crude measures when better measures are available. Here is just one problem with using NAPLAN testing to determine teacher performance that you might not have considered: students in years seven and nine usually have five or six teachers. They use basic skills in all subjects.  Who is responsible for their results? 
      You are certainly right about the forces that drive good teachers out of where they are most needed! Funding regimes which make difficult schools more attractive might work but state schools need more money to do that.

    • Murray says:

      01:50pm | 27/11/12

      Michellemac, you have highlighted the difficulty in using the tests to measure teacher performance. I really think sales figures are a very different situation and that policy for the vital service of education should not be determined using crude measures when better measures are available. Here is just one problem with using NAPLAN testing to determine teacher performance that you might not have considered: students in years seven and nine usually have five or six teachers. They use basic skills in all subjects.  Who is responsible for their results? 
      You are certainly right about the forces that drive good teachers out of where they are most needed! Funding regimes which make difficult schools more attractive might work but state schools need more money to do that.

    • St. Michael says:

      02:14pm | 27/11/12

      “This is the reason I like NAPLAn as a whole - expose the good teachers, use the results to pay them according to results they achieve. I work in sales and I am paid soley on the results I achieve, yes, it’s a blunt stick and there are lods of variables…”

      I’m afraid you’re not talking the same language as most teachers.  Because you’re paid on commission, i.e. piece rates, you are therefore being paid solely for achieving results, i.e. performance.  You are results oriented.

      Teachers as a group are process oriented.  It’s a very big difference in thinking.  It’s also why a good fraction of them teach to the NAPLAN rather than teach properly all round—because the process of NAPLAN and what it entails for them personally is more important to them than the kid’s overall education.

      Part of the process orientation comes from the fact most teachers are staunch unionists.  Unions as a rule hate differential pay for differential performance, because it undermines their role in the workplace and it undermines their member base.  The AEU would rather die in a ditch before it ever allowed its members to have their pay linked to their performance in schools, for no other reason than the fact it’s the career coasters and poor teachers who pay the most union dues over the life of their safe, mediocre careers, and therefore the poor teachers who have the biggest clout in the AEU.  And a poor teacher would not get paid if their pay was linked to their performance.  The AEU only says it “supports” pay to performance because it knows it’d get howled down by every other group in the community if it did otherwise.

    • Jess says:

      03:13pm | 27/11/12

      I’m sure the AEU would support performance based if there was a fair system of measurement that is fair to all teachers and students. No one has come up with a system that takes into the accounts for the variablity of the students.

    • michellemac says:

      03:47pm | 27/11/12

      @ Jess

      That’s my point. Nothing is ‘fair’ in any job. In any industry. With any employer.  ALL measurements/ KPIs are a blunt stick and miss the nuances of the job and outside infuences but there has to be ‘something’.

      @ Murray..I get what you’re saying….sales is not all about ‘taking the money’ (in fact if you were like that, youwould not have a long term career) there are lots of other elements that make a ‘good’ sales rep but money is what we are measured on. But teachers are there to teach, and we need a measurement of that. I would say performance of the class (in Primary school) and in subject areas (in high school) is the best measurement we would have.

      @St Michael agreed re: Unions but don’t think there is a huge difference between a good sales rep and a good teacher. In fact, some of the best sales reps I know were once teachers….it seems to be the place all those I-taught-for-three-years-and then-quit because I was unfulfilled/underpaid/the system sucked people end up.

    • willie says:

      01:31pm | 27/11/12

      I remember doing WALNA tests. I assume they are comparable to NAPLAN.

      No one cared what we got. It was the least stressful day of the year, you spent a couple of hours colouring in little boxes then you got a long lunch.  I think the difference was all the kids knew the results didn’t mean anything, we were just told to try our hardest.

    • Bah says:

      01:32pm | 27/11/12

      I wish there was a NAPLAN for Punch Journalists..sorry Opinion Writers.
      There would be about 3 left.

    • Black Dynamite says:

      01:44pm | 27/11/12

      If this comments section was the NAPLAN test you would be top of the class.

      Black Dynamite

    • Dana says:

      01:59pm | 27/11/12

      The problem is Suzie that yes, kids should learn writing, reading, etc but NAPLAN limits their writings skills to just one key area: essays. My partner’s a teacher and his kids can write great essays but get them to do a creative writing piece and they can’t do it. There is more than one way to write and by focusing all of kids efforts on essay writing (which, let’s be realistic, we never use past uni) we risk having kids who can’t adapt and write for various audiences.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      02:06pm | 27/11/12

      Susie - you obviously have no understanding or comprehension of the things you are writing about. NAPLAN does not tell us anything about how schools are performing. It tells us nothing about how individual teachers are performing.

      The only thing NAPLAN tells us is about the prior literacy and numeracy experience of the students taking the test.

      Now - if you have a class of students who entered year 3 at a mid year 3 level on average, because their parents sent them to tutors, or read to them from birth and did all the right educational things, those students will generally do quite well on NAPLAN. However, this does not give us any indication of the quality of their teacher, or their school.

      If those same children are only achieving at a beginning year 4 level at the end of the year, then they have only moved 6 months. This suggests that the teacher is not as good as the NAPLAN results might suggest. Contrast that with a teacher whose students are on average, working at a beginning year 1 level upon entering year 3. They will do abysmally on the NAPLAN test, through no fault of the teachers. But by the end of the year, those students are now working at a mid-year two level - a gain of 18 months.

      Which teacher is the better teacher? The one whose students moved 6 months, but who got great NAPLAN results, or the one whose students moved 18 months, but are still behind their age level?

    • Gordon says:

      02:07pm | 27/11/12

      NA PLAN pour moi!

    • Jeff says:

      02:18pm | 27/11/12

      If kids are stressed from pressure from teachers then lets look at where THAT pressure comes from.  When a school’s NAPLAN results are publiclly available and principals are asked by regional directors why their NAPLAN results have not risen and why there are too many red and pink areas and not enough green and then Principals refer that pressure down onto teachers, asking them why their Year 5 (or 3 or 7 or 9) have not made gains on this one-day exam, then of course the teachers will stress the importance of this test to their classes.
      When commentators want to say that teachers who don’t increase NAPLAN scores should be sacked or penalised, of course teachers will stress to kids the importance of the test.
      I won’t go into the problems with some of the test itself in terms of the content - there are plenty of experts who have done that (largely ignored however) - suffice to say,if we put the test in context, stop pressuring schools and teachers about the results and stop inflating the importance of these one-day-every-two-years snapshots, then maybe they will take the pressure off the kids.

    • buffwench says:

      02:47pm | 27/11/12

      I am a teacher an NAPLAN is rubbish. You think one test every two years is indicative of a student’s true literary and numerical skills.
      Many students also do not test well under such conditions. Some are sick on the day. There are too many isolated variables to make NAPLAN have any modicum of reliability.

      Unless you are a teacher you have no idea of the horrendous workload and NAPLAN is just yet another bureaucratic pen pushers to obstruct good education.

      NAPLAN is not an effective way to measure good education. Just another article proverbially sh#tting on what is the most important occupation in the world. And yes I exclude parenting from that because the bulk of teachers I work with are now demi-parents due to lazy, selfish parents who expect teachers to do everything for them.

    • Al says:

      03:14pm | 27/11/12

      buffwench - so I am assuming that the HSC and TER are also rubbish and should not be used to assess the persons suitability for a particular role/job or whether they should be eligible to enter into a particular university course?
      After all there are too many isolated variables to make the HSC or TER have any modicum of reliability.
      Re: “NAPLAN is not an effective way to measure good education.” - so what, in your opinion, is an effective way to measure good education?
      Please offer a workable alternative.

    • iansand says:

      03:33pm | 27/11/12

      Absolutely correct, Al.  A single number is a very crude method of assessment.  Would you seriously discriminate among applicants based only on a mark in the HSC?

    • Jess says:

      03:38pm | 27/11/12

      The HSC is a test that students spend at least 2 years preparing for. They are 17 and 18 year old students Not primary school students (yes I’m aware NAPLAN goes to high school). Students are aware of the content of the exams and are taught the skills and content over an extended period of time. The HSC is also set state by state not one test set for 8 different curriculums. I believe the HSC also has the highest sucicide rates for final year schooling.
      Also HSC is the HSC only sat by students wishing to enter university? (I’m not NSW so I don’t know). Here you can get a year 12 certificate without meeting the requirements to get a UAI.
      Employability is considered a good measure of education there are a couple of other things like critical thinking and functional mathematics. A good education is mainly dependant on what a student can do with it .

    • Al says:

      03:58pm | 27/11/12

      iansand - if they were applying for a job with no previous experience (paid or unpaid) or other qualifications, hell yes.
      More likely it would simply be based on if they had actualy got it at all as most aren’t stupid enough to include the actual result page unless they did well.

    • Al says:

      04:22pm | 27/11/12

      Jess - nope, the HSC is not just sat by those wishing to enter university, there are actualy very few career options available for anyone who doesn’t sit the HSC.
      As far as I am aware they provide the TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank) to all the students, even those who do rather patheticly and will not (or can not) get into Uni based on that. (maybe later as a mature age).

    • Babbling Brook says:

      05:54pm | 27/11/12

      “Unless you are a teacher you have no idea of the horrendous workload”

      I would say that if you are a teacher you have no idea of the workload that the rest of the world carries. I am not a teacher but I am married to one who works full time and is very good at her job… but I am out the door long before her in the morning and home much later. For us it is great as she doesn’t have to do much, gets paid well, and can stay across a lot of the home stuff that we have to manage. She openly and proudly acknowledges that she chose teaching as a career because of the work hours and holidays.
      As for me, I do love my job but I work for close to 50 weeks a year and attend the office reasonably often on weekends or public holidays plus attend the normal round of work functions at night and a lot of international travel.
      I think teachers moaning about stress and how hard they work is beyond ironic. If NAPLAN causes stress then fantastic, if half the crap I hear about what happens at schools (via the wife) is true then around half the teachers in most schools need a good kick up the arse.

    • BruceS says:

      02:58pm | 27/11/12

      Thank you Susie, for your informative and not disingenuous article. When considering education policies, I go by the old hard won wisdom that says if the teacher unions are screaming and spending lots of money for advertising against the policy, it must be an effective policy.

    • Murray says:

      03:53pm | 27/11/12

      The AEU draws on the thousands of years of teaching experience of its members and vast quantities of research data in its commentary on education policy.  It is a professional association as much as an industrial organisation, just like the AMA or the Law Society, and is interested in making education better for all students. While it is always wise to look where self-interest might lie, please don’t discount the commentary heedlessly.  NAPLAN is a reasonable snap shot of literacy and numeracy but that is all it is and that is all it should be used for.  It is not unreasonable.

    • Steve says:

      03:23pm | 27/11/12

      Once upon a time, teachers and their knowledge of teaching and leaning were respected and their opinions valued. In years gone by that respect has been eroded. Why should journalists and op ed columnists be making such definitive statements about NAPLAN? They freely criticise the whining teachers with legitimate complaints. Do they do the same for their kids doctors? I doubt it.

      As professionals, teachers should be valued for their knowledge and expertise in teaching. I can tell you as an educator who is not a member of the union that NAPLAN tests are an expensive, inefficient, politically motivated,culturally biased and entirely misused form of assessment.

      But you all know better, apparently.

    • Pat says:

      03:44pm | 27/11/12

      The issue isn’t YOUR kids, the issue is rarely with middle class children. The kids who are breaking down are children from low socioeconomic areas who aren’t given the out of school help they need. This is not due to parents not caring it’s due to them being unable to assist them as they weren’t given the resources themselves when they were kids.

      Kids from poorer backgrounds have issues with current testing methods (especially girls), and so the way these tests are conducted are a poor method for testing them (see “The Zombie Stalking English Schools”).

      The problem also isn’t what’s in the tests, it’s that kids are being drilled on how to do the test, rather than what they are using these skills for. And the pressure comes from Principals who use these tests to get promotions to bigger schools.

      You just presented an article based on your unqualified, gut feeling about NAPLAN (without any links to research that supports you), based on a sample size of your one middle-class child, with a tertiary educated parent. That is a horrible way to judge an education policy.

      Nice sentence structure though.

    • Chris says:

      04:42pm | 27/11/12

      I have NAPLAN students and I teach to the test. Not for long—I spend about a week each year on NAPLAN practice, then it’s back to the more important stuff we were doing.
      So what? We teach to the test in every other major exam. HSC students are taught to produce quality exam-style responses. We time them, mark them according to HSC criteria, have Trials, complete past papers. It’s all in the interest of getting them over the line. It’s called “Preparing students for the biggest exams of their lives”. Sorry some of you don’t agree with it. Welcome to the real world where studying for an exam actually improves performance; where hard work yields measurable results.

    • Angry moose says:

      06:22pm | 27/11/12

      Exams and Tests are a joke.  In the real world if you dont know the answer to somthing you pick up or phone or jump on your computer and google it

      Emphasis needs to be placed on knowing how to find out information, not remembering useless facts and figures that are irrelevant later in life.

      Students should be allowed to do exams with a computer in front of them with access to the internet .... to represent the real world.

      Isnt that why we send kids to school? to learn about the real world?

    • lafm says:

      06:51pm | 27/11/12

      I am not against NAPLAN. What I do want to say is that NAPLAN is one snapshot of assessment. It doesn’t even take into account your child’s sense of security and emotional learning which takes place day to day. You are ignorant ‘as a parent’ to assume that this test will give you a clear overall indication of your child’s school standards due to the varying nature of students from class to class taking into account academic ability, support at home and range of other issues. In my classroom in 2011 I had 7 children who had learning issues. These children were accounted for in the test. The next year the majority of my children were assessing well above what was expected. How can we use this data to compare students and school performance?


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