Fighting for Equity in Education

The struggle is long but hope is longer

A Day in the Life of NAPLAN

Thursday May 16, 2013

Some stories about NAPLAN this week from one government school in Canberra.

• Most of the students breezed through however there was a significant group, in year 3 that didn’t cope.
• G, who is a really bright student and normally does great work, froze when it came to the hero writing, he wrote ‘my dad deserves an award because’ and then spent the rest of the time with tears rolling down his face because he couldn’t think of what to write.
• B got really worked up with both tests yesterday, he said he had butterflies in his tummy, felt sick, it was too hard and he couldn’t do it – all of this with tears down his face.
• A could not read the questions, he guessed the test answers.
• W guessed his way through the tests and was done in a couple of minutes.
• R got very frustrated with himself because he did not understand the questions and he gave up.

“All up there were a lot of emotions, anxiety, stress, tears, confusion, mainly for the ‘lower levelled kids’ .” (teacher assisting with special needs students)

• One year 5 student could not even get inside the door – his anxiety was too high. He is keen to try again tomorrow. (PS: he did not manage to get himself into the room the following day either, and has spent the day being angry and non-compliant)
• One 3/4 teacher stated that she felt very stressed whilst administering the test.
• Some 3/4 students were concerned that the test would mean they would miss out on recess.
• Other 3/4 students were concerned that the teachers were unable to answer their questions (Eg: “…but I don’t know what this word means, how can I answer the question when I don’t know what it means?”).
• 3/4 students who had a scribe for the writing test found it difficult to read their scribed text, therefore found the task of ‘checking’ for punctuation (capital letters and full stops) stressful.
(literacy and numeracy teacher)

• G became overwhelmed and broke down into tears at the beginning of the writing task. He was so upset he sat there for the entire 40 minutes and didn’t write anything at all. When he returned to class afterwards he broke down crying again as he told me what happened. I phoned his Mum and she mentioned that he had been very nervous leading up to the test despite both his family and the school just emphasising to try his best.
• I had one student walk out instantly this morning. Refused to partake. Tears. Angry outburst. (He was earmarked for extra time).
• Another student did not complete the language conventions test anywhere near to his ability, ie questions left blank because I could not help him to read some of the wording in the questions. He has a diagnosed anxiety disorder and the only provision was 5mins of extra time.

“Majority handled the testing quite well.” (Year 5 teacher)

• I had a phone call from a parent today, to tell me that her daughter is too sick to come to school. After a visit to the doctor, it seems that her symptoms are all anxiety related, and the only thing she is contributing to feeling this way is NAPLAN. The mother stated she will send the child to school tomorrow, but she is NOT to be made to do NAPLAN. As it is too late to withdraw her, she will count as ‘did not attempt” and score zero in all 3 tests. She is one of our brightest students in year 5.
(Year 5 teacher)

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