If you’re a teacher, then you’ve probably heard about Naplan testing. But what is it? Who does it involve? And how can you help your students prepare for it? Let’s answer those questions and give you some tips to ensure your students are ready for testing day (without going overboard)!
State testing and analysing of results across the state isn’t a new concept and has been around for some time! During my first year of teaching, I remember giving my students the AIM test. It was only Victoria wide and I seem to remember correcting it myself, then sending in the results (am I right?). I don’t remember preparing the students, just turning up one day and giving them a test, then saying “no talking”, “I can’t help you” for the next hour. In 2008, Naplan testing replaced AIM testing and is administered nationally.
Since Naplan was introduced, it has been a rocky ride. There was backlash for school results being published on the My School website. Then schools who took the preparing for Naplan to the next level so that would rank the highest. With time and greater understanding by schools, administration and teachers, the whole hype around Naplan has settled. Schools generally have a more balanced approach and understand that there is more to teaching and learning than having the best Naplan test results.
What is Naplan Testing?
NAPLAN stands for National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy. It is an assessment that all Australian children complete in Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9. It provides comparable data about student performance in literacy and numeracy over time. As students progress through their schooling, Naplan testing enables teachers to analyse student results. They can ensure they are progressing with their learning and understanding of essential literacy and numeracy skills. Naplan tests sudents in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.
How can Naplan Tests Help Teachers?
When used effectively, Naplan data can help teachers map student progress over time, identify students who require additional support and identify the strengths and weaknesses of a child. Of course in many circumstances teachers are aware of individual students strengths and weaknesses. However, Naplan testing allows you to see this over a period of time. Naplan data can also help whole schools identify areas of strenghts and weaknesses. Looking at the same cohort of kids in Grade 3 to Grade 5 is beneficial to schools to see if changes that are being made to pedagogy and literacy or numeracy programs are successful.
Naplan testing does not replace ongoing and extensive assessment by teachers, and is one test, one day.
Preparing my Students for Naplan Testing
Remember when I said some schools were taking Naplan test prep to the next levels? There was a surge in schools, teachers (and parents) putting pressure on students to be the best. Test prep was being taken too far and teachers were teaching to the test. Students were doing previous Naplan Tests day after day. This was never the point of Naplan testing.
Naplan tests skills and shows the development a student has made over time. Naplan testing does not test content. All students need is familiarization with the test, and what to expect on the day. The job of preparing students for Naplan is not wholly the responsibility of the teachers in that year level. I am not even sure “preparing” is the right word.
You don’t want to give the message to students that they need to be stressed about Naplan, it’s any other day at school.
It is, however, important to expose students to Naplan type terminology, the structure of tests and know how to answer questions. On testing day, students will the be familiar with what they have to do. You can do this through activities such as my Naplan Numeracy and Language Convention daily tests (put links in here). These simple worksheets enable you to expose your students to questions, vocabulary and talk through how to answer questions. All in less than 10 minutes a day. The perfect lesson warm up or filler. Best yet, with 3 days of worksheets per page, it won’t use up your photocopy budget in one go!
Another incidential way you can expose your students to Naplan questions are through these easy to use Powerpoint Presentations. A great warm up to your Maths lesson, these worksheets introduce your students to Naplan type questions! Students will be practising Naplan tests without even realising it!
Have your students got the testing side of things under control but are constantly confusing the terminology of different Math concepts? These Math Posters will help!
Read more about my tips to preparing your students for Naplan in The Secrets to Preparing your Class for Naplan Testing.
Over preparation can cause extra anxiety for some students as well as taking them away from much needed content they should be learning! So this is definitely not something I recommend!
In 2023 Naplan testing is being moved to earlier in the school year. In place of the traditional May testing schedule, tests will now take place in March. Should this change how you prepare for the tests – No, absolutely not! The change has happened to give schools a chance to get the results back sooner, analyse the results and make an action plan earlier in the school year.
This video from acara, contains some useful information about preparing your students for Naplan and help settle the nerves and students, parents and students.