Dear Parents and Guardians
NAPLAN results have recently been distributed to parents, which can trigger confusion about the importance of external testing. NAPLAN provides the School with a snapshot of the abilities of our students on one particular day, and provides parents with a means of comparison to National and State averages. The benefit for the School is that the data can help identify weaknesses, and allow targeted responses to rectify any deficiencies. We value this tool immensely.
With only one year of NAPLAN testing before the 2016 tests, we do not have comparative data with which to compare, as no year group has yet done the test twice. In 2017, when we re-test our Year 3 students, who will be in Year 5, and then our Year 5 students, who will be in Year 7, we will then be able to begin to monitor student progress. In a growing school it is difficult with such a small data sample to draw conclusions even from this data. Please remember that the continual intake of students will dilute the data, with the School ‘inheriting’ students from other schools. A general trend we will expect to see is that student data will show an improvement from Year 3 to Year 5 as we value add to our own students. Then in Year 7 when we increase from two streams to four streams of students, we would expect to see our data impacted negatively again. The aim would be to then increase the results between Year 7 and Year 9.
The Year 9 NAPLAN tests (2018 for St James’) have taken on a slightly more important role. Any student who demonstrate Band 8 or higher in each of the NAPLAN reading, writing and numeracy tests in Year 9 will be deemed to have already demonstrated the standard of literacy and numeracy required to achieve the WACE at the end of Year 12.
Students who do not reach Band 8 in each of the tests will be required to sit further tests in Year 10 – these tests are known as the OLNA test (Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment). If they do not pass the first round of OLNA testing, students will have five more opportunities to sit it during Years 10 - 12. Students who do not pass the OLNA test by the end of Year 12 will not be eligible for the West Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).
The important point for students is that they should, as we always recommend, make their very best effort in the NAPLAN testing. Students should not feel anxious or be made to feel under undue amounts of pressure. Band 8 is quite advanced and we know that there will be a number of St James’ students, along with a number of students at other schools around the state, who cannot yet demonstrate this standard across all of the tests.
Some parents and students wrongly believe that they will never go to university if they “fail” NAPLAN ; such misplaced anxiety is counter-productive and saddening. Teachers in Mathematics and English have ensured that students have been given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the NAPLAN testing format.
St James’ NAPLAN Summary
Year 7 Above National and State average in Reading, Writing, Grammar/Punctuation
Above State average in Spelling
Below National and State average in Numeracy
Year 5 Above National and State average in Reading and Spelling
At State average in Writing, Grammar/Punctuation and Numeracy
Year 3 At State average in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar/Punctuation
Below National and State average in Numeracy
These results give us a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of our students in each cohort.
As a parent body, you should notice an increase in activity in the Numeracy area, which may include strategies that you can use to help support your child at home. A Mathematics Committee was setup several months ago to navigate a clear pathway. This was prior to the NAPLAN scores, but is now well on the way to developing a systematic whole-school approach. Established schools are often limited in their ability to respond to changes in educational direction. They are ‘big ships’ that have a small rudder that makes them less nimble. Developing schools, like ours, can change direction of the ‘ship’ more easily, and have much faster responses that will impact our students at a much faster rate.
The Year 3 data at a National level shows very compressed results, because none of these students have experienced this style of testing. Our results were very close to all National and State averages in everything except Numeracy.
The Year 5 data for 2016 paints a picture of a capable cohort across the board, with no real deficiencies.
The Year 7 data shows us that Literacy is strong, but Numeracy requires targeted work.
The picture is clear across the cohort but at an individual level you will need to look at the specifics of the data for your own child. Talk to the class teacher, and formulate strategies to target these areas of deficiency. Panic is not helpful, and the results will not improve immediately. Our results are very encouraging.
I often speak to people about mutual purpose. We as educators aim to improve each and every one of our students, and you as parents wish your child to achieve the highest results possible in a happy educational setting. Constant positive interaction between teachers and parents is the clear path forward.
Mr Adrian Pree