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Pushy Parents and those Awful Standardised Tests!

So it turns out that some parents are so keen to have their children perform at the NAPLAN tests (Australia’s standardised tests) that they have started preparing them as early as kindergarten age. I couldn’t think of anything more dispiriting for a child. It’s bad enough I have to teach my Grade 3’s based on the questions they are bound to encounter during the tests, what could be worse than being subjected to it, up to 5 years in advance?

PUSHY parents are training kindergarten kids for Naplan – four years before they have to sit the controversial literacy and numeracy tests.

About a million students – in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – will sit this year’s tests over three days next week.

But the pressure to perform is beginning years early, with some parents forcing their four-year-olds to take grade 3-level tests at home.

Dr Les Michel, from the Senior Students Resource Centre, said pre-school parents had joined the soaring demand for practice Naplan tests.

“This year we’ve even been getting kinder parents,” Dr Michel said.

“We would have had dozens, I’d say.”

Dr Michel said kindergarten parents bought the grade 3-level booklets, costing up to $24.95 each.

“They are really pushing their kids,” he said.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said Naplan practice for pre-schoolers was “highly alarming”.

“It’s putting more pressure on kids at such a young age that they really don’t need, and it’s usurping the role that teachers in the classroom play, which is completely unnecessary,” he said.

However schools are also increasing the pressure, with “teaching for the test” now beginning as early as grade 1.

“We’re aware of it happening, even though people won’t admit it on the record, and why would they?” Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said.

“It demonstrates the desperation of some schools – their reputation hangs on it.”

Victorian Independent Education Union secretary Deb James said there was an “increased and unwelcome” focus on the tests in schools.

Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett said: “Kids sitting down and practising tests is not the way to learn.”

Lucky for these pushy parents, I have some suggested exercises for them to set for their children.

 

To prepare them for the persuasive writing exam, you could set your child some of the following topics:

1. What is more fun, studying language conventions or playing outside with friends?

2. Is doing practice tests with mum and dad considered quality time?

3. Is learning for fun overrated?

 

To prepare them for the maths paper, I have the following suggested activities:

1. Count up the blisters that you have accrued from all the writing you’ve done and round the number to the nearest ten.

2. If Johnny went to school from 8:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m. and then spent the next 2 hours completing timed reading comprehension exams, how much time does he have to relax?

3. What percentage of pushy parents ends up rearing appreciative kids?

Good luck parents!

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One Response to “Pushy Parents and those Awful Standardised Tests!”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    The educational value of NAPLAN tests is approximately, no, exactly zero. Children come in all shapes and sizes, physically, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually and practically any other way you would care to compare them. There is no such thing as a standard child, indeed person. English educator Charlotte Mason, who lived in the late 19th-early 20th centuries wrote that the child is a person in his or her own right. I can think of nothing more calculated to violate the personhood of children than to apply cookie cutter tests designed to reduce children to a set of numbers.
    Rather than improve the educational atmosphere standardised tests reduce everything to numbers. The things that really count in education cannot be counted.

    It is interesting how the educators that really made a difference in education are largely ignored in teacher training courses of today. You meet very few beginning teachers who have even heard of Piaget, Pestalozzi, Montessori, Steiner, Mason, Froebel and others who attempted to educate the whole child. Everything seems to have been reduced to a Taylorist type of philosophy which has been so inimical to business in the USA. When everything is reduced to numbers, the meaning of everything evaporates like the morning dew.

    I say get rid of NAPLAN, get rid of wholesale IQ testing and get on with valuing children for who they are not for the numbers their study produces.

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