Using NAPLAN to Choose a School

school with dad

Don’t do it.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

NAPLAN – the annual National Assessment Program – Literacy And Numeracy- is held annually for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. These are numeracy and literacy tests for those year levels, and those year levels only.

Just because a school obtains higher NAPLAN results does not mean it has better teachers. NAPLAN cannot measure a child’s intelligence or potential. They are merely small tests so that the government can gain a quick snapshot view to ensure standards are being reached across the nation. If you don’t know a lot about NAPLAN then read our 10 facts about NAPLAN to help you better understand what it is and why you and your child shouldn’t worry about it.

Why NAPLAN tests dont make a student

All NAPLAN tests have a huge margin of error at the individual level as well. Results can go up or down by as much as 12% if the child were to do a similar test at the same time. Which essentially means a child could get 70% one day, then on a similar test the next day might score anywhere between 58% and 82%. Professor Margaret Wu from the University of Melbourne has written several papers on this.

In other words, the My School website should not be used as the be all and end all resource tool for selecting a school for your child.

Selecting a school for your child purely on the results of a standardized test would be similar to selecting a new car because you liked the colour!

choosing a school

So How Do I Choose A School?

The best way to select a school for your child is:

  • Go and visit the school. Most schools have ‘open days’ and if not, you can phone them and make an appointment to have a look
  • Speak to the Principal or any of the senior staff who will be able to explain the school and what it has to offer
  • Find out about their educational focus – what do they emphasise
  • Talk to other parents who already have kids there – more than one!
  • What sort of pastoral care do they have there for the students in their care
  • Look at the schools website
  • Find out about the school’s facilities
  • What other activities do they offer that may interest your child

My Schools Website

The My School website can give you some basic information including:

  • how the school’s students have performed in national literacy tests.
  • how the school’s students have performed in national numeracy tests.
  • the size of the school and the number of full-time teachers.
  • a 200-word blurb provided by each school about the school’s educational emphasis.
  • the number of student enrolments and attendance rates.

Where Else Can I Look?

And for all the other bits and pieces you need to know, check out the Queensland Government’s education website’s Frequently Asked Questions

But remember, the best solution is to go and visit some schools and take your kids with you. You know what will work for your kids. It’s not always about the grades!

Lisa Evans is a qualified and experienced primary school teacher (in NSW) 


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One response to “Using NAPLAN to Choose a School”

  1. Ozdenyer says:

    Well said!! I am a teacher and feel too much emphasis is placed on naplan by parents and government that in the end it is the kids that have to perform on a given day. Go by your instinct and by visiting the school and talking to other parents. You’ll soon get a good idea about the place.

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