If you’ve been following the media you will have heard the concerns that a third of the state did not meet the proficiency benchmark in this year’s NAPLAN tests. This needs to be tempered with the knowledge that ACARA made several changes this year, increasing the benchmark standard and reducing the 10-point band system down to four proficiency levels (the new benchmark being only the top two levels).
In light of the reported state results, there has been a call for more “explicit” teaching of literacy and numeracy in school. Shire Christian school has always given an emphasis to explicit teaching strategies, even when it has not been the favoured approach. In K-6 we have dedicated Literacy and Numeracy times in the day and divide each grade into three classes during these times, allowing us a more strategic approach to these fundamental areas of learning.
NAPLAN is not intended to rank children, or schools, or parts of Sydney and NSW and it’s frustrating when that occurs in the media. It is however a tool that can help educators to diagnose and respond to individual and group literacy and numeracy needs. I am aware of schools that dedicate large amounts of class time to “win” NAPLAN, and it is saddening that they feel pressured by the media or community to do so – I’m sure their leaders and teachers would rather be focussing on broader educational outcomes.
All that said, I am very pleased with our overall results this year – in every single category, across the four years of 3, 5, 7 and 9, we surpassed the state percentage of students meeting the new benchmark, in some cases by 20% or greater. Good news is well received, but as always, we will continue at Shire Christian to focus on whole-child education and character development in a Christian framework for life.
Mr David Stonestreet
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