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NAPLAN? No worries

Friday, 17 June 2016

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Despite widespread community concern about the pressure that the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing places on students, new research from ECU has found that the standardised testing regime has only a minimal impact on levels of stress. 

NAPLAN is an annual national reading, writing, language and numeracy assessment for all Australian students in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9.

Researchers surveyed 465 Year 3 and 5 students from 11 independent schools in Perth, as well as 346 parents and 40 teachers. The survey measured their anxiety about the NAPLAN testing.

They found that only three per cent of students, teachers and parents reported a severe level of stress around NAPLAN.

ECU’s School of Arts and Humanities Lecturer Dr Shane Rogers said it was the first time student’s levels of stress around NAPLAN had been measured.

“Previous studies had looked at how much stress teachers perceived their students to be under during and after NAPLAN, but ours is the first study to actually measure students’ actual levels of distress,” he said.

Research aims

The research was conducted in partnership with the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA).

AISWA deputy director Ron Gorman said the aim of the research was to investigate the best way to support student’s learning.

“We aim to help schools provide a supportive environment that fosters their students’ learning and development and this research will help us to do that,” he said.

Further steps

  • ECU School of Education Associate Dean Dr Lennie Barblett, who also contributed to the research, said the study challenged the prevailing view that NAPLAN has a broadly negative impact on well-being.

“NAPLAN testing has many harsh critics, and one of the major criticisms is that it has a negative impact on student well-being,” she said.

“While these results do challenge that view, we should be cautious in thinking the results will apply to all schools. The 11 schools we worked with were all independent schools in affluent suburbs so they may not be representative of the broader education sector.”

School of Arts and Humanities Senior Lecturer Dr Ken Robinson said they will investigate if the results are the same for all schools.

“Our next step is to complete further research in this area to see if these results are consistent across all types of schools,” he said.

Investigating the impact of NAPLAN on student, parent and teacher emotional distress in independent schools was published in the journal The Australian Educational Researcher.

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