Is NAPLAN Putting Too Much Pressure On Young Kids?

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NAPLAN: Is It Making Kids Anxious?

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Each year more and more Year 12 students seek help for HSC stress. Why are Year 12 students so stressed? Because the hype surrounding the HSC created by parents, peers, teachers, and the wider school community is phenomenal. Schools are under pressure to help students produce top marks so they stay competitive in the end of year school rankings. This pressure filters down students who are told, repeatedly, that their performance will affect not only the reputation of their school but the rest of their life. The message is clear – choke and your future will be bleak.

Are we putting too much pressure on young kids?

Are we putting too much pressure on young kids?

And if the HSC isn’t bad enough – now we have NAPLAN, an annual nationwide assessment of Year 3, 5, 7, and 9 students in reading, writing, language conventions, and numeracy.

NAPLAN was introduced to help schools evaluate their performance. It’s also supposed to help our Education Ministers determine whether their policies are having the desired effect on student performance in the education system.

NAPLAN testing has never been more competitive. Teachers are under pressure to help students produce top marks so they rank well on the My School website and well-meaning parents inadvertently add to this pressure by paying too much attention to test performance. Publishers are capitalising on NAPLAN anxiety by selling books “designed for parents who want to help their children and for teachers who wish to prepare their class of the NAPLAN tests”. These books are so popular that one has hit the best seller list.

Is NAPLAN the new HSC?

Why all the pressure and what impact is this pressure having on our primary school students?

In theory NAPLAN sounds great. It’s a way for us to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our education system so we can make necessary improvements. HOWEVER, the way in which this testing is being carried out and the way in which results are being published creates unnecessary competition and pressure that ultimately filters down to our students

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.