Bathurst students began their NAPLAN testing yesterday as one million students across the country picked up their pens.
Children in years three, five, seven and nine have begun three days of national standard testing.
They started with two tests, one in language conventions and one in writing. Reading follows today and numeracy tomorrow.
Relieving principal at Eglinton Public School Meleesa Smith said the NAPLAN testing got off to a very good start.
She said 125 students at the school would sit the tests this week.
“It provides information for both parents and teachers about how their child is travelling, not just in relation to their class, but students nationally,” Ms Smith said.
“It is also an opportunity to demonstrate what they learn in class.”
Psychologists across the country have said they are still witnessing high levels of stress in young children in the lead-up to the NAPLAN exams despite repeated warnings that precautions need to be taken with students in high-pressure environments.
NAPLAN’s chief administrator Dr Stanley Rabinowitz urged parents and teachers to “control the stress”.
“Treat it as a normal day and move on,” he said.
“Remind your children that they take tests all the time and this is just one more. Nothing bad can happen to students other than getting information to get the help that they need,” he said.
Ms Smith said Eglinton Public School’s advice to parents was they can help prepare their children by ensuring they get a good night’s sleep, have an excellent breakfast and pack some snacks for them to eat during the day.
She added that students at Eglinton would be familiar with the style of testing because they have seen it in the safety of their classroom.
“We sit down and talk about it with them,” she said.
“We also try to encourage students to think of it as another day at school, and that it is not the be all and end all.
“It’s a snapshot of where they are up to.”
Dr Peter Miller, head of All Saints’ College, agrees.
He said NAPLAN has two purposes. It focuses on the point in time data of students, and is therefore useful as a snapshot.
Dr Miller added that the formality of the process is also beneficial in preparing students for exams later on.
He said NAPLAN results also had some value as students move between schools.
“Could we survive without it? Yes, no doubt about it,” he said.
Dr Miller said NAPLAN sits alongside other diagnostic tools in measuring the relative strength of a year group, or cohort, compared to the state and national average.
“It is a little less reliable than the School Certificate used to be, but it is the only tool we have to show how they are placed,” he said.
Around 160 students across the junior and senior schools at the college are currently sitting the NAPLAN exams.
Dr Miller said all was going smoothly with few surprises.
“The students are taking it in stride,” he said.