What do NAPLAN results show parents?
By now you will have received results from the NAPLAN tests that were sat earlier in the year. Although these tests are surrounded by some controversy, there is no denying that the opportunity to compare your child's progress with their national cohort only comes along four times in their lives. You have the information, but what does it all mean for us as parents?
The most valuable information the report tells us is where our child's strengths and weaknesses lie. Once you have identified these, you can then encourage their strengths and support their weaknesses. Education is not solely a job for schools, it is a whole community responsibility and, as parents, only you can ensure your children get what THEY need.
Identify and Encourage Strengths
Identifying Strengths: If any of your child's results (black dot) sit above both the triangle (national average) and the light blue area (majority of students), run and give them plenty of hugs and kisses now; their hard work is paying off and you should be extremely proud. They are in the top 20% in that subject.
Encouraging Strengths: Unfortunately, most parents ignore these strengths because they aren't having any problems with them. What was once a source of excitement, challenge and excellence fast becomes average, easy and boring. Once you have identified strengths, encourage them! Seek further ways to challenge your child in these areas. For example, if they have a writing strength, enrol them in writing competitions; if they are strong in maths get them into some robotics or inventions.
When we identify strengths, we challenge the students to extend their thinking. This might be applying the basics to real-life problems, extending them beyond their current class work, or speeding up what they already know. No child should be left unchallenged in their strengths.
Identify and Support Weaknesses
Identifying Weaknesses: A result (black dot) below the National Average (black triangle) suggests that this is an area where your child has weaknesses. If their result is still within the top four bands, there is plenty of room to improve but they may need support in specific areas of the subject matter, not everything.
If your child has any results (black dots) within, or close to, the bottom two bands, they are achieving below or just at the absolute minimum standard. Your child is finding the work very difficult and will find next year even harder. These are their areas of significant weakness and they will need focused intervention to maintain the pace of their peers.
Supporting Weaknesses: Speak to your classroom teacher or tutor and see how they are addressing these weaknesses. Ask for strategies and activities you could attempt at home to boost those skills.
When we identify weaknesses, we first build the foundations. Just like a house built on sand, a lack of educational foundations has no support for new learning. We go to whatever year level and topic in the curriculum we need to consolidate the work that hasn't been learned effectively. We also build confidence. It is human nature that we want to get better at the things we are strong at and hope that the other things just go away. Through lots of non-threatening tests, praise, and rewards we turn their weakness into a strength.
Most importantly, remember that we all hate the things we aren't good at. So, when supporting weaknesses, go at a pace that makes it fun and develops confidence as these are the cornerstones of lifelong learning!
NAPLAN Student Report Explained - http://www.nap.edu.au/verve/_resources/Student_reports_brochure_2014-web.pdf
Here is a great 2 minute video that shows exactly how to read the report and when you should be taking action - http://www.nap.edu.au/student-report-video.html