Preparing students for NAPLAN
NAPLAN, also known as the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, is a series of assessment tests held each year in May for Australian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
“NAPLAN tests skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life. With the test results, teachers can tailor each child’s education more effectively”.
NAPLAN is made up of tests in the four areas of:
- language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation)
The assessments are undertaken nationwide, every year, in the second full week in May.
This year it will be done online, and it is essential that any teachers working on any of the grades affected to be well informed about the changes.
These changes are outlined very clearly on the website, and give clear instructions around the move to online testing.
How can we best support our students in preparing for these tests?
For many students this can be a very stressful time and so it is important that they be given as much assurance and support as possible. In some instances, it may be deemed so stressful for the student that they be exempted from participating.
Practice beforehand – Students need to have practice with the format and layout of the testing so that they are not seeing it for the first time. It is very different to the work that they would normally be doing in class, and this familiarity will provide some security when testing starts. The Alphabet Tree has some great resources for students to utilise as practice.
Encourage and Reassure – this is essential from both the classroom teacher and parents. The students need to understand that this is not the measure of their worth nor their ‘smartness’. I have seen some schools who have written letters to their students prior to the testing which is a nice touch. Here is an example:
“This test does not assess all of what makes each of you exceptional and unique.”
“The people who score these tests don’t know that some of you love to sing, are good at drawing or can teach others how to use a computer program. They have not seen the way that some of you can dance with grace or speak confidently to a large group. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them when they are sad. They don’t know that you participate in sports, help your Mum and Dad or that you play with your little brother, sister or cousins. They do not know that you are caring, thoughtful and that every day you do your best. Because these attributes cannot be tested.”
“The scores you get from this test will tell you how you did on that day, but they will not tell you everything. They can’t tell you that you have improved on something you once found difficult. They can’t tell you that you brighten up your teacher’s day. They can’t tell you how amazingly special you are.”
“So, come to school ready to do your best for the NAPLAN test and remember there is no one way to ‘test’ all of the wonderful things that make you, YOU!”
On the NAPLAN days, wear something bright and distracting– allow your children to see this as something other than solemn and serious. Their classrooms will look different with posters and other hints covered up, and there will definitely be a different feel to the school as other classes are asked to be respectful and quiet during the testing period.
Have positive mindset posters around the room the weeks prior to testing and talk about what they mean, and how our inner talk can help us to persevere, even when it feels a bit hard. Or use motivation cards.
Teach deep breathing and meditation – sites like Cosmic Kids will help students and guide them through the process of breathing deep into their bellies to help them to become calmer and to oxygenate their brains prior to, and during testing. It is a simple yet effective strategy to teach all students.
Guided visualisation can be helpful. Click on the link to check out one from Teachstarter that is useful.
When the testing is over, go outside and have a run around or play a favourite game with your class.
Below are some other helpful resources to help your students to confidently complete the upcoming NAPLAN testing.
- How to prepare students for NAPLAN, by Holly from Teachstarter
- Cool Australia has a great range of resources for all grades preparing to do NAPLAN in 2019