By Dr Selina Samuels, Chief Learning Officer at Cluey Learning

NAPLAN is intended to be a snapshot of student literacy and numeracy skills at a particular point in time across the country. The expectation is that it tests students on the skills that are embedded in the Australian National Curriculum and that this should be taught as a matter of course through their normal schoolwork.

And yet parents are clearly looking to spend more time preparing their children for the exams, either to boost their confidence or maximise results. But does this growing interest in extra NAPLAN prep really benefit children come exam time?

 

Dr Selina Samuels has been in education for over three decades, and held leadership and advisory roles for almost twenty of those years.

In a recent study conducted by Cluey Learning, 60 percent of parents indicated that it is important to prep a moderate amount for exams, with a further 25 percent opting for “a little” prep. The fact that parents across the country believe that more attention should be paid to NAPLAN is further confirmed by the sheer quantity of NAPLAN-specific workbooks and online programs designed to supplement school-based learning.

Understanding the value of NAPLAN

When they prepare for NAPLAN, students are acquiring and consolidating skills in reading and comprehension. They’re learning to use language and punctuation accurately, expanding their vocabularies and their ability to spell and write effectively. They’re developing their skills in numeracy, problem-solving and logic.

Our study found that 85 percent of parents agree that literacy and 77 percent agree that numeracy will be essential to jobs of the future. Just because they’re being tested doesn’t negate the value of these skills.

WATCH: Do primary school kids need homework. Continues after video …

NAPLAN prep encourages familiarity and builds confidence

NAPLAN questions are quite unique and don’t resemble the sorts of questions that students usually encounter in assessments. The skill of answering multiple-choice questions is a process of elimination and application of logic. Moreover, time management skills are not innate and need to be taught.

Prep gives students an understanding and familiarity with the format of the tests, and a confidence that they will be able to answer the questions. Our study showed that while most students are not great fans of the test, 70 percent said that studying for NAPLAN was helpful.

We find that rather than adding to students’ stress, prep demystifies the tests. If students understand the sorts of questions they’re going to be asked and the skills that they need to demonstrate, they’re less likely to fear the unknown. The key is not just to expose students to examples of NAPLAN questions, but to give them feedback on their practice attempts and support to improve.

Through individualised feedback and support, students develop confidence and self-efficacy that defeat their uncertainties.

Does extra NAPLAN prep really benefit children come exam time?

NAPLAN is a great opportunity to talk to your child about their feelings

NAPLAN prep is also about connecting with your child on how they approach NAPLAN, rather than simply focusing on the results they achieve. The test presents a great opportunity to talk to your child about how they manage their nerves and perhaps share some examples of how you personally face challenges. This helps your child understand that stress is a normal part of life and does not necessarily present an obstacle to them doing their best.

To help parents navigate NAPLAN, Cluey will launch a free webinar series this March led by its Chief Learning Officer, Dr Selina Samuels.