19 Oct 2009

Using the NAPLAN tests at home

I subscribe to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's email newsletter for parents of Victorian school children, Parent Update. I am always interested to hear what is going on in our local State schools, and generally find at least one article of interest. The October 16th edition was no exception and contained information on Victoria's performance in the NAPLAN tests.

Standing for National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy, the NAPLAN tests were (as the name implies) implemented Australia-wide last year for school children in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9. They test students in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions (Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation) and Numeracy. NAPLAN test results allow schools and systems to compare their students’ achievements against national standards and with student achievement in other states and territories. It also allows the monitoring over time. The National Summary Report: Achievement in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy 2009 is available online on the NAPLAN website. On the website you'll also find pdf downloads of the the Literacy and Numeracy tests for 2008 and 2009.

Now this gave me an idea.

Many of you, I know, use homeschooling curricula that regularly test your children's progress in major subject areas. Those of you who like me choose the Charlotte Mason method of educating and testing will be less sure where their children fit in relation to their State educated peers. Now this is not an issue per se. One of the main advantages of homeschooling to me is the opportunity it provides for me to tailor Jemimah's education to her academic needs, interests and, in particular, temperament, rather than having to accommodate the varying standards displayed by a class of 20 Grade 1 school students of varying abilities. Still, I was curious.

I administered the Year 3 numeracy test last Friday. You may recall that 7yo Jemimah is in Year 1, but is currently midway through MEP maths Year 3. I hoped that the standards would be similar. They were. Despite never having sat a test of any type before, Jemimah scored 29/35, or 82.85%. Her results placed her within the range of Level 5 or 6 (it is difficult to gauge precisely without the assessment tool), considerably above the majority of Victorian Year 3 students. I was very excited; her Daddy was very relieved. This was a concrete way for me to demonstrate her abilities.

This result gave me the confidence to administer the Year 3 reading test today. Well, my clever Grade 1er achieved 100%. Wow!! Imagine what Daddy is going to say about this one!!

Now before you dismiss this post as that of a proud and boasting mummy (which I'll admit I am, rather), please note that I won't be asking Jemimah to complete the Language Conventions or Writing tests any time soon. Don't forget, we're Charlotte Masoners. These things absolutely mustn't be attempted before year 4. That gives me a few years, doesn't it? Jemimah's spelling is appalling, dreadful, horrifying, dire, dismaying, terrible, ghastly and grim. I won't be showing you these results for quite some time.

Miss Mason assures me that good spelling comes with exposure to living books. I will be patient.

If you, like me are vaguely interested in where your child rates, hope over to the NAPLAN website and have a look around. You, like me, may be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Thank you for sharing this Jeanne! I am interested now!

  2. I can't stop giggling when reading this post. It brings back memories of last year and giving my then 3rd grade daughter the maths & reading tests but there was no way I was going to waste the time with the writing one ;) She wasn't ready physically or mentally for writing until this year so yes, you've got a few years before you need to worry about that section LOL.

  3. As much as you read, and with copywork, she might just ace that writing test anyway! Great job!

    Our school was a tad "skeptical" that my daughter could have "kept up" with their demanding curriculum.....she's doing just fine in her first term back.

    Point here? Kids learn so much at home that cannot be seen in the classroom!

  4. lol These tests are incredibly boring. I won't let Ditz sit them anymore. Last one she played with the phonics rules to amuse herself So I figured that was a huge waste of time all round. She should have done the year 9 one this year but she was singing ~ which gave me a wonderful excuse for vetoing the whole thing. I personally don't think testing proves much but I did like doing it when Ditz was younger [before she got so clever & realised how wild she could make people by playing silly~buggers with her exam papers]because it gave me confidence she was actually learning. Now I know she knows *how* to learn & will learn what she needs to know when she is good & ready. The rest is just window dressing.

  5. Go Jemimah! and thanks for sharing this though I am not sure I'd want to "test" Rebekah. One of the things about CM I loved was the absence of comparing oneself to another which was so....big in my schooling days! I can see the benefits of doing the test but I think I just need to think about that some more and hey I've still got a few years to think about it:) You never know, my curiosity might just get the better of me and sneak the test in somehow, is that possible to do you think?:) maybe not by the sounds of what it entails! btw, what was Jemimah's response to it all?

  6. Thank you for sharing. I also read some of your posts and I learned a lot of things. Keep updating and looking forward for more soon! Thanks for sharing again.

  7. I take your point, Joyfulmum. I like that about CM as well. The reason I gave Jemimah the maths test was that one day last week my dh questioned whether it was really Jemimah doing her maths sheets or whether in fact I was helping her to do them without realising it. While I was sure he was wrong, I was glad to have an independent way of testing 'where she was at', as it were.

    Jemimah loved the process - probably because her usual CM tests are a thing of pleasure for her. She didn't feel threatened and looked at it as a way of proving what she knows and not of discovering what she didn't!

    She is generally a real wriggly worm, unable to sit still for more than five minutes. I was impressed with her ability to sit quietly and concentrate for the whole 45 minutes required for the test. She found them interesting and entirely enjoyed the whole process. I'm not about to test her on a regular basis, but did find the tests very useful as a one-off exercise.

    Dh is delighted too - as you would imagine!!

    Maybe you'll find them useful with Rebekah, maybe not. You'll certainly know when the time comes!!

  8. Thanks for the reply Jeanne!
    I liked this:
    "Jemimah loved the process - probably because her usual CM tests are a thing of pleasure for her. She didn't feel threatened and looked at it as a way of proving what she knows and not of discovering what she didn't!"
    I hope Rebekah is the same when the time comes:)
    And I forgot to say on my previous comment that I don't mind you boasting about Jemimah! You deserve to be applauded as should all homeschooling mums who work so hard!

  9. When we first started homeschooling way back when, I did let my oldest boy sit the state testing when in year 3. I was totally curious if he was doing ok or not. Well, I need not have worried. The boy totally floored the state and was sitting up there pretty. The only problem came when he turned into a social teenager. Sigh....... he's still bright, but definitely wasting his abilities.


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