National Tests for students next month [NAPLAN] – so what?

Next month all year 3, 5 7, and 9 students in Australia embark on a series of National Tests over a 3 day period in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and number.

Teachers have been encouraged to better prepare students for these tests by teaching the language of exams so that students understand the questions. They say this has a small improvement effect usually noticeable in the first year you do this.  Note  that you need to do this every year for year 3 students to get this effect.

We, as teachers, use the test results to measure amongst other things the effectiveness of our teaching programs and the value added effect of our programs over a two year period – not a bad outcome.

Given we get the results some 3 months later they are not that much use as diagnostic results in order to teach what the student needs to know next – our online on-demand testing gets better and more immediate feedback to teachers.

But there is a bigger message here – listen to Ken as he talks about what’s not tested and the talents of  individuals. We want tests but not at the expense of real learning. Lets not learn to get marks but rather learn because its interesting and your curious and creative.

The system is wrong if the first question we get is how many marks is that worth. I know because I get that in my Masters course at University today.

This is just a little reality check.