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Changes to NAPLAN Testing and Affect on Students Beginning in 2017

Parents, teachers, tutors and students are aware that all Australian students must undergo NAPLAN (National Assessment Program- Literacy And Numeracy) testing during grades 3, 5, 7, and 9.

What is NAPLAN?

NAPLAN is a type of standardised test designed to measure certain knowledge milestones a student is expected to achieve by the time they have reached certain points in their academic career. This test is designed to evaluate a student’s overall academic knowledge, rather than a just single year’s curriculum.

Why Are Students Required to Participate in NAPLAN testing?

NAPLAN testing helps to provide everyone from government authorities and educators to parents and students a clear picture of how well a student is academically performing at certain points in their education. NAPLAN also provides valuable feedback about how effective existing educational programs are. The feedback from these tests assists educators to develop new programs (if and where required) for future implementation in schools.

NAPLAN test results are combined with additional school assessment programs (example) in an effort to learn exactly which areas a student may need additional assistance with.

The NAPLAN tests a student’s skill level in the following areas:

  1. Writing
  2. Mathematics
  3. Language (i.e. punctuation usage, spelling accuracy, and grammar usage)
  4. Reading

Changes to NAPLAN Testing Requirements

In the past, students needed to satisfactorily complete their course work, hand in their assignments, and take their exams in order to earn a Higher School Certificate. In an effort to standardize NAPLAN testing for all students, the Government of New South Wales has instituted new minimum standards for the literacy and mathematics portions of NAPLAN testing. These minimum standards represent the biggest overall adjustments to the requirements for obtaining a high school certificate in nearly twenty years.

The new minimum standards in literacy and mathematics will be applicable to all students by the year 2020, beginning with students that will be entering grade 9 by 2017. If a student achieves band 8 status on the NAPLAN test in the areas of literacy, writing, and mathematics by grade 9, their eligibility for a high school certificate will be automatic. Any student that does not meet the new minimum standards by grade 9, will be required to undergo yearly online assessments of their reading and mathematical skills until such time that they are able to demonstrate they have met the new minimum testing requirements.

Any student that fails to meet the new standards by the time they reach grade 12, will receive a Record of School Achievement (RoSA) as an official testament of their academic endeavors, instead of a high school certificate. Students that earned an ROA in grade 12, will still have up to five (5) additional years to successfully meet the minimum standards and earn their high school certificate.

Why Are Changes Being Made to NAPLAN Testing Requirements?

The New South Wales Minister of Education, Mr Adrian Piccoli, wants to ensure that students are better educated and more adequately prepared and qualified for obtaining gainful employment once they have completed their schooling. As matters current stand, far too many students finish school without having attained a solid foundation of knowledge or skills need to successfully enter the employment sector.

Mr Piccoli aims to implement new minimum passing standards to NAPLAN testing for NSW students that will help standardize testing requirements across the country. At the same time, he believes that in order for students to have the best chance of succeeding in the work force, they should be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the basic skills needed by potential employers. The new literacy and mathematics standards outlined by BOSTES (Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards NSW) are intended to boost a student’s comprehension and competency rates, which will afford them an increase to their marketable skills set.

Benefits of Establishing New Minimum NAPLAN Standards

In order for a student to have the best opportunity to succeed in life, they must obtain proper training and skills that enable them to successfully navigate and interact with others within society. These skills include (but are not limited to) being able to:

  • read, understand, and properly fill out documents
  • understand how percentages and interest rates affect banking operations
  • make a personal budget
  • decipher the measurements and amounts necessary for a recipe
  • how to navigate the internet

Additional Changes to NAPLAN Testing

Along with changes that establish minimum standards for reading and mathematics, NAPLAN has been redesigned to concentrate on the following:

  • Reducing levels of student stress
  • More in-depth focus in the areas of Science, English, History, and Math
  • A push to study higher levels of Math
  • Redesigned test question that encourage students to employ their critical thinking skills

In addition to the changes noted above, the new NAPLAN exam is designed to make it more difficult for students to cheat on test questions.

How Can Parents Help Their Student Prepared for NAPLAN Testing?

NAPLAN testing provides a measurement of everything a student has learned over the course of many years in school. As such, students cannot ‘study’ for the exam. Parents are advised to remind their students that any attempt to study for the exam will likely cause the student to experience unnecessary stress. Students are encouraged to relax, give the exam their best efforts, and to treat testing day just like any other school day.

Early recognition of issues and assisting your child throughout their entire schooling years can ensure that the student performs well on NAPLAN. Tuition helps to instill confidence within the student, develop exam preparation techniques and helps students develop necessary skills for life and the workforce.

Which Students Can be Exempted or Withdrawn From NAPLAN Testing?

Under a specific set of circumstances, a student may apply for an exemption to or a withdrawal from NAPLAN testing. Parents are encouraged to contact their student’s school for additional guidance, if the following conditions apply to their student:

Exemptions

  • The student has a severe intellectual learning challenge or disability, OR has additional severe conditions in conjunction with a learning disability.
  • The student has been enrolled in school for less than 1 year.
  • The student has a primarily non-English background and has been enrolled in school for less than 1 year.

Withdrawals

  • A student may withdrawn from NAPLAN testing if the test is against religious beliefs
  • A student may be withdrawn if there are philosophical objections to the test.

Working Together for NAPLAN Success

The main goal of the Australian Government and education department is to provide high-quality educational opportunities for all students. NAPLAN exams help to accomplish this goal by accurately assessing how well students are performing at pre-determined milestones in their academic training. The recent changes made to NAPLAN are intended to better measure a student’s proficiency and provide early intervention opportunities to help students that may be struggling in critical area, especially in the areas of reading and mathematical. These are critical skills each student will need in order to increase their chances of success in life.

If parents have any questions regarding the updated testing standards, they are encouraged to contact their student’s school for more information and additional guidance. Teachers, parents, and students working together will ensure a student the best opportunity from NAPLAN testing success.

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