Teachers are preparing their year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students for the National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy tests which will take place around Australia from the 12th to the 19th of May.
This national testing scheme was introduced last year. The idea is that it gives students, teachers and parents an objective way to compare their school’s, and individual children’s, level of knowledge and skill with others around the country. This makes it easier to identify particular schools and children who need more support.
It may also help in identifying teachers who are underperforming, so naturally the AEU (Australian Education Union) doesn’t like it.
One of the criticisms was that the tests were unrealistically hard.
I was able obtain copies of last year’s tests. There was some spelling in the literacy tests, but the greatest emphasis seemed to be on students’ ability to interpret a variety of common texts: recipes, a newspaper cutting, a short story.
The literacy tests seemed fair for their year level. They required an ability to think about the meaning of ordinary texts, and to apply that knowledge. Generally single word answers were required, and these were either right or wrong – making the test easy to mark, and providing a straightforward objective result.
This is exactly what parents want. They want clear, objective information that shows what their child has learned, and how his or her performance compares with that of other students in their own community and nationally.
The numeracy tests were also good in terms of design, and questions were appropriate for the year level they were testing.
I have run a number of quiz nights for various organisations over the years. In each bracket of ten questions I will put a couple which any dimwit should be able to answer. Then there will be five or six which you might confidently expect someone in a group of six or eight adults to know. Then there will be two or three which will test even an intelligent and well-read person
The NAPLAN tests seemed to be organised in much the same way. At each year level there were some questions which any student with half a brain should have been able to answer. Most of the other questions were solvable with a bit of thought by an average student. And a few were required some deeper knowledge or thought.
I have copied three (out of 45) questions below from the year five (11 year olds) numeracy test. I’ll post answers and explanations a little later. Enjoy!