SHARON WITT ON NAPLAN TESTING
DJ1: You know, today is an important day and look, we’ll talk more about it with Sharon Witt, because see our Kid Whisperer. Hey, Sharon, good to see you.
SHARON WITT: Hi. Great to see you guys.
DJ1: Now, it’s a big day today.
SHARON WITT: It is.
DJ1: it’s the NAPLAN.
DJ2: Yeah, now, tell us, just sum up NAPLAN really quickly cause I honestly don’t have any children and I’m not sure what NAPLAN is completely.
SHARON WITT: It’s the National assessment for numeracy and literacy across the country. So, every child years 3, 5, 7 and 9 who attend school, you should be, are assessed over the next 3 days. So, the testing takes place in the morning at all schools at exactly the same time.
DJ1: Wow, so it starts today.
SHARON WITT: Yes, and it’s very strict to, aside from you have the particular time you have to start when you have to finish all schools must follow that.
DJ1: How much importance should we put on to the results of this test at school?
SHARON WITT: Look, I think far too much emphasis is placed on the NAPLAN testing. I think it’s, look, it’s just one aspect how our children are assessed everyday in so many different ways. You know, this is just one test, our kids get lots of testing at school across the board. But because this is a national test, parents and students tend to freak out and think “oh my goodness it’s gonna be, you know it’s national, so the government will have my findings, you know.” But really, it is just one indicator. And often as a teacher you might go back, you might have a few concerns about a child, maybe in numeracy or literacy and you’ll then go back and have a look in their results when they come in and say “okay, these are highlights”. Yes, this child may have issues in literacy or numeracy and then you can put some steps in place, maybe extra tutoring or extra assistance at school, but it really doesn’t define the child, it’s not something that you know, future employees are gonna look at and say, “Now, I notice in grade 3 the NAPLAN, you know, you got quite few spelling words wrong.” You know, it is not that some testing.
DJ2: Hey, what can parents do to help their children if they’re feeling really stressed about this? Cause I think it would probably hang over your head as a kid.
SHARON WITT: It does.
DJ2: If you’re one of those sorts of kids who just wanna do well and please your parents.
SHARON WITT: Yeah, absolutely. I think it is something that should be sprung on the kids. Hey, we are doing some testing this morning but the kids do know about it, the parents know about it. So first of all, make sure your child gets a good sleep like they should everyday before they go to school, a good healthy breakfast and talk to them about it just say “look, this is just another test, don’t worry about it, it doesn’t define who you are. This is just another aspect of school and really your results don’t matter.” They really don’t matter in the wholes game of life and the wholes game of school. It’s just another form of testing and it does give you a bit of snapshot of the child where they are at the time.
DJ1: Okay, what is the reasoning then on, you know, the actual national testing, behind it all though. What its actually.
SHARON WITT: Well, it’s really to say whether the children are sort of functioning. There’s a kind of an average that they should be attaining with literacy and numeracy. And there’s kind of a band, when the results come through, there’s a band and an indicator of where your child is that band. So if they are falling within the national average, then all schools should be kind of aiming that their kids are falling in that national average, you can see where kids go off the charts as in really high average and some that are really struggling. But it really is just a, having indicator that schools are meeting those benchmarks and that children are in the right curriculum.
DJ2: Do the parents get to see where the school lies with regards to NAPLAN statistics.
SHARON WITT: They get to see the national average. So what happens is when they get the results in a few months, they’ll see the bandwidth and it’s quite large and they’ll see that this is where the national average is, this is where the average student of your age group fell and your child will probably be somewhere in that band.
SHARON WITT: Yeah, it is interesting but you just can’t base your child on that.
SHARON WITT: And they can have a bad day. I mean some children just freak out when it comes to testing environments and they just freeze up. And the simplest of you know spelling words can just freak them out. So, we’ve got to also remember that some kids are sick when they’re sitting them, it is just one assessment.
DJ1: It is.
SHARON WITT: Look, it is just another tool that we use.
DJ1: You’re an educator and thank you for educating us about it today.
SHARON WITT: Thank you guys.
DJ1: And don’t forget about it kids if you’re gonna do it, it’s just one of those things. Have a bit fun with this.
SHARON WITT: Yeah.