Thursday, May 14, 2009

NAPLAN Day 3: Mathematics and overall view

Today I supervised my Year 5s and next doors Year 7s in the numeracy NAPLAN tests. The Year 5s have 1, no calculator allowed; while the Year 7s have 2 - one calculator, one not. I went into these tests quietly confident and came out wrecked.

I personally completed the Year 5 test, realising as I went through the kids exams that I'd made three mistakes, which would put me at 37/40. It was a really, ridiculously hard exam, with more than one question better suited to grade 7s or 8s. I shook my head when I saw it, because I just don't know what I could have done to prepare the kids more. I have been worrying that I'm pushing them too hard - most are learning at Year 6 level, some edging into Year 7 work. But they were no where near ready to really attack this. From a quick look, the best marks were just 33/40

It's very discouraging to come out of a test knowing that you've worked so hard, and the students have worked so hard, and still you can't achieve as high as you want to.


These were much harder tests than last years. The spelling words were harder to read, let alone spell. The punctuation and grammar had a new type of question they didn't have last year. The writing task was very abstract and the maths test was plain difficult to the point of ridiculous. The tests were clearly aimed far above the level of the children they were trying to test.

So what does this achieve? Lots of stressed, anxious and dejected children? Feelings of superiority from those who write the test? A culture of fear for teachers who know that threats were made about performing better in these tests than last years?

The last 'achievement' worries me the most - I know our district wanted to tie funding to our ability to raise all levels by 10%. I also know that when the results come in, they won't be great, and we'll be in the same position - if not worse - next year. So what can we do? It's something to keep thinking about.

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