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The Silent Voice in the NAPLAN Debate: Expoloring Childrens Lived Experiences of the tests

Howell, Angelique

Year: 2012

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



The Silent Voice in the NAPLAN Debate: Exploring Children's lived experience of the tests

This paper examines primary school-aged children’s lived experiences of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests.  NAPLAN emulates the neoliberal accountability agendas of English and US education systems, with results published on the My School website.  Research on the impact of NAPLAN to date has focused predominantly on schools, school leaders and teachers; however there is a lacuna in the literature pertaining to children.  In this study, 100 children across 5 classrooms within 2 schools serving different socioeconomic status (SES) communities drew a picture about their experience and wrote about their drawing after completing the tests.  Focus group discussions and classroom observations were also conducted.  Inductive, thematic analysis of the data revealed emotion as the most dominant category.  Negative responses were most prevalent among children in year 7 who often failed to see any purpose in the tests, but most severe in responses from students with learning difficulties.  The focus group discussion with the year 3 children in the higher SES school provided evidence that this group is most likely to perceive NAPLAN as high-stakes.  Persuasive evidence suggesting linkages between negative emotional responses and poor test performance indicates outcomes which are counterproductive to the central aim of NAPLAN, which is to improve learning outcomes.

Triplett, C. and M. Barksdale (2005). "Third Through Sixth Graders' Perceptions of High-Stakes Testing." Journal of Literacy Research 37(2): 237 - 260.

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