The latest NAPLAN results have been published on the federal government's My School website, with some Victorian schools celebrating significant improvements, while others lag behind.Kids take on NAPLAN tests
So what is it like to take the NAPLAN test? We ask Birralee Primary School grade three students what they think.These schools are made up of three types of students: the big improvers, the coasters and the strugglers. Which one are you?
The big improversThese students achieve above average improvements in literacy and numeracy. They are the black dot on the NAPLAN student report card that soars up the achievement scale as students move from year 3 to 5 and year 7 to 9.
Every school wants to be a big improver, but according to Melba Secondary College principal Terry Bennett, it doesn't happen overnight.In 2012, a food technology teacher at the disadvantaged school estimated that 40 per cent of year 10 students could not read a simple recipe.
Since then, Mr Bennett has trained his staff using a new model which sees teachers in every subject focus on reading and vocabulary."Every teacher should be responsible for literacy," he said.
In literacy class, the school increased silent reading time and rolled out "low stakes writing" where students write freely in non-marked assignments to build their confidence.The results have paid off, with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority identifying the school as one of 400 in Australia that has made significant improvements in NAPLAN. It recorded exceptional gains in literacy.
Melbourne University's Emeritus Professor Patrick Griffin said high-gains schools focused on building students' skills and measuring their growth, rather than "developing a better test score"."It's about changing practice," he said.
The coastersThese students might look good on paper, but they are not improving.
They are the black dot on NAPLAN student report cards that hover over the same high-achieving band for consecutive years.Experts say too many students fall into this category, which is why Australia's performance in national and international tests is flatlining.
Research by Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership chair John Hattie has found that almost one-third of Australian schools are coasting, with high-performing students who are not improving. He found that high schools were more likely to be coasters than primary schools."I think the biggest problem is complacency," professor Hattie said.
"The parents think the high-achieving schools are the good ones, they should also be looking at growth."Australian Council of Educational Research chief executive Geoff Masters said coasting students may be in classrooms where they are not challenged or extended.
"Teachers sometimes say they feel less able and well prepared to challenge and extend the most able students in the class."The strugglers
In an ideal world, every student would make excellent progress every year, regardless of their starting point.Unfortunately this doesn't always occur.
This is represented by black dots on NAPLAN report cards slipping down the achievement scale when compared to previous reports.One self-confessed "helicopter mother" on a parenting forum said she didn't know whether to be mildly or wildly concerned about her son's results going backwards.
"I am concerned as skill sets should surely increase or even level out rather than decline?" she said.A drop in NAPLAN results could be nothing to worry about it could simply reflect exam anxiety.
But Sydney University's Dr Rachel Wilson said declining results were a worrying trend, and coincided with low participation rates in maths and literacy in secondary school."We have to pay attention," she said.
The senior lecturer said poor teacher quality, short-sighted education policy and school funding inequities were contributing to the problem.
"We require a national review of educational policy, and I would like to see longer term planning, for 10-year-plus strategies across education."
By: Henrietta Cook - The Age, 8 March, 2017