Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 951

Both Tahlia and Darby will be sitting NAPLAN tests this week. I've gotta say, this whole NAPLAN thing is tormenting me.

NAPLAN is the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy.  Every year Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are assessed using national tests in reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy.  I agree with these tests in principle. But in practice the process is raising some concerns ...

Tahlia - she'll be fine.  She is an average kid with average results. School is exactly how it should be.

Darby - he may not be fine.  In this world of assessments and grading and scores he's an above average kid with below average results.

As you know Darby has dyslexia.  His eyes aren't quite as fit as the rest of this body which means he has trouble reading.  He is currently in Year 3 and reading at a Year 1 level.  The interesting thing is he loves the reading experience. He is quite good with his comprehension, fantastic with facts, ability to predict, character assessment, creating stories of his own and the like.  He just can't read easily. He also understands many of the rules of punctuation, he can spell out loud, he has a huge vocabulary and is very articulate with his words. He just can't write easily. Dyslexia is like that.

Which means that NAPLAN is not necessarily the best way to assess my boys knowledge and competencies.    In order to answer the questions he has to firstly read it and then secondly write about it.  Which is tricky for a guy who's eyes don't work in the same manner that ours do.  So you can see why I am feeling a little tormented.

We have been doing practise tests at home with me reading him the questions. He is doing quite well and is feeling good about it all.  With the numeracy tests he is even ENJOYING them and thinks they are fun.

He has also been doing practise tests at school.  They aren't quite as fun because without a reader he is having trouble reading the questions and answering them is frustrating when the question fails to make any sense in the first place. They have been troubling him greatly.

Darby is finally enjoying being at school with all that school has to offer.  The reason I have been feeling tormented is because I don't want this to change. There is a very real possibility that this week of NAPLAN testing may send him backwards in regards to his confidence and resilience. That just going through the process may make him doubt himself and highlight his weaknesses.  Nothing about this process is allowing my boy to celebrate his strengths ...

So I have made a decision. I have organised for Darby to have a reader. With his diagnosis he is allowed to have assistance to ensure he is not hindered by his "disability". You have to know, this has been a very tough decision for me. I have been experiencing a constant game of ping pong in my mind as I toss the pros and cons back and forth. One day I wake up thinking "it's no big deal". And the next day I wake up thinking "this is a very big freaking deal". Do I give him the assistance he needs or does that highlight his weaknesses further?  Should we challenge him to learn how to manage and become innovative within his condition, or is that throwing him in with the sharks? Am I being an over-protective parent perceived as giving her son an advantage, or am I simply making sure there is minimal disadvantage?

So yeah, NAPLAN is tormenting me. I'll be bloody glad when it's all over.

Am I the only one? 


  1. Being a Dyslectic I can understand Darcy's problem (It does seem to get a little better as you get older) Some of our most famous have had this e.g. Kerry Packer and his son James; at least these days they have a name for it! (I was always getting into trouble for not paying attention). The argument of measurability has always been a big one and the Teachers are known to 'coach' kids to get better marks - I wish I knew what the answer was but hopefully they catch the kids that fall through the cracks with learning problems but I'm sure this is not the means to do it.

  2. You are not the only one. Girl Child is home today, feeling sick. I have a feeling it's related to NAPLAN as the nightmares seem to have been. I worry about Girl Child as she has trouble writing. Plus as a perfectionist she worries that won't get things right.

    I think you have done the right thing getting D a reader. I also think that there is too much pressure on kids for these tests. The school wants a good mark so they put pressure on the teachers so in turn the kids get pressured. How is that useful?

    It will be all over Thursday afternoon, thankfully.

  3. Support is there to be used. As you say, he can do it, he just can't do it on paper. The test is designed to show what kids can and can't do, against what they should be able to do. Your son isn't stupid, he just has a disability. If the test finds him to be in a low bandscale it's counter productive to helping him where he needs help.

  4. Agree with all of the ladies here. You wouldn't expect a blind child to do the test without assistance. Doing so certainly wouldn't be teaching that child how to be resourceful, it would disadvantage them and perhaps make them feel inadequate. Just as a child with a broken arm wouldn't be left to their own devices to write the answers if it was going to slow them down, producing bad results that were not indicative of their smarts. Darb's deserves to continue to feel awesome about the huge progress he's made. As long as he's not made to feel bad for getting the tools he needs (in this case a reader) I couldn't imagine why you wouldn't jump at the chance. No good will come from him feeling inadequate if he can't cope alone.

  5. I can see your dilemma. But, only you and the school will know the result. The school probably already has a measure of his capabilities, and you don't need to ever mention the test again after it is over - to really prove that it doesn't matter. Or will he push to know the results?

  6. Thanks so much for all your lovely encouraging and supportive words. Our boy got through day one with very little issue. He had a headache when he got home (which is due in large part due to the fact he didn't get that reader we'd organised AND he didn't wear his glasses.) We'll see how today goes. He's in good spirits which is the most important thing. My fear was that he'd step backwards from a confidence perspective. That doesn't appear to have happened. It's all good :)


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