Love it or hate it the standardized test is here to stay, at least for a while yet! There is no doubt that many schools now teach to the test and this is a sad state of affairs but who can blame them? We live in a world of statistics and tables and everybody is running for first place.In a perfect world children in primary school would learn a great deal through play, learning by doing and experiential learning before pencils and paper hit the room.
Term 2 is here already for some and it’s NAPLAN time in Australia – the government website says:
“NAPLAN tests skills in literacy and numeracy that are developed over time through the school curriculum. Excessive test preparation using previous tests is not necessary or useful.”
Misty Adoniou – Author of What is Naplan?(Conversation article.) Senior Lecturer in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra says:
“NAPLAN is not a test you can “prepare” for. And making it a big deal won’t improve students’ performances, although it may increase their anxiety and reduce their performance. “
Practicing for the test will not necessarily gain a student extra marks and it could change their attitude to writing. The hours spent on expensive tuition that is book heavy or the hours spent at home with workbooks, would be better spent learning by doing. It is in the everyday learning that children build skills and develop their thinking. Metacognition – (thinking about thinking) Being aware of yourself and higher order thinking skills are invaluable in life and they don’t come from a book or a google search. They come from learning by doing, connection and conversation amongst other things. I am not against tests. There is a place for testing but testing that mean something to the child. Testing that the child sits and then conferences with the teacher and together they come up with a set goals and a plan of attack.
In an ideal world children would be tested on elements of the curriculum when needed to create individual action plans and work from their own starting point. NAPLAN is a standardized test that has now been aligned to the Australian Curriculum since 2016. They have moved away from the statements of learning, however, teachers on the ground have no idea what will be in the test, only broad perimeters that the government give out. Therefore, children do need some exposure to the question format and most schools do this with gusto. The thing is, getting an enormous score is not going to make you or your child feel successful in the long term. Yet, spending valuable connected time together is.
Teachers can gain a lot of information from informal and formal testing. Informal testing could be a conversation, it could be a written piece or it could be practical. Formal testing takes place at the end of a unit of work or the end of a term to assess progress against given standards that the teacher is assessing. The standardized test unfortunately doesn’t give schools a whole host of information on the individual child it just shows them where they are in relation to other schools and how they did at teaching to the test. The standardized test is loved by governments and they all seem to take it as a personal insult where they are in PISA ( Program for International Student Assessment) and as a consequence it is the children who suffer.
Here is a list of READING activities you can do at home to enhance learning throughout the year that doesn’t involve a workbook.
1.Read frequently and widely – ask questions, retell the story or chapter. Discuss the plot beginning, ending, blurb and title. Ask questions about characters and their feelings. How did you think the story would end?
2.Read Non-fiction books of interest and look at the contents, glossary and index pages. Have a friendly quiz about the information in the book. For example, what is on page 17? Can you find all the pages that are about gorillas?
3.Read magazine articles and discuss.
4.Adverts – Find them in your environment and discuss what they are for? Do they work or not? Produce your own advert for your favourite foods, book or toy, for example.
5.Read instructions – from Ikea bookcases to how to make a paper plane? They all count. Recipes also count as instructions. Reading and following instructions is a vital skill in life. Recipes come with a whole host of maths and literacy learning . See our simple baking with kids post for more reasons cooking together is good. 6.Illustrations – Can your child add a caption or could they add best fit words to a picture.
7.Do word puzzles – crosswords, word searches, riddles and brain teasers that all help develop divergent thinking.
8.Recently NAPLAN has included web pages as part of their reading test. When surfing the web chat with your kids to make sure they are aware of terminology like webpage, blog post, landing page, tabs, home etc
9.Get your kids to read leaflets. Ask them to pick up a few of interest when you are at optician, doctors and museum etc leaflets are a mine of information. Once read you could then ask your kids questions about the leaflet. There can be so much going on in a leaflet and it can span several text types.
10.Local paper – no gory stories! We often look through the local paper and there are kid options too. Hit the links for more information!
This post is part of a series about NAPLAN. Check out the other posts here.
We have to change our view of education to one of the long game. Education is a journey and not a destination- That was Mary Harris- Jones not me!
Happy learning across the years xx
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