Special Needs – Sitting NAPLAN – Part 1 – Is this the right choice

If your child is due to sit the Naplan this year and you are wondering about your rights.  I refer you to the Naplan website http://www.nap.edu.au/naplan/school-support/school-support.html for important information.  Every child is expected to sit the Naplan exam unless they are eligible for exemption or the family decides to withdraw their child.  All of these decisions have to be made in consultation with your school but the decision is the families.  The school is not to try and force you to withdraw your child and is not supposed to exert influence on the family.  They can express their concerns and their opinions but the final decision is yours.

I would suggest however, you take some time away from any pressures from school or opinions of people and discuss your decision as a family unit and include your child so they can have input if you believe they are capable of giving you valuable insight.

We looked into this when our daughter was in Year 3 and decided even with the adjustments that are available she wouldn’t be able to complete the exam so we were able to get an exemption for her.  As noted in the Naplan website “Students with significant intellectual disability and/or those with significant co-existing conditions which severely limit their capacity to participate in the tests may be exempted from sitting the national tests”.  You must still speak to your school and make this decision in consultation with them.  You will be required to sign a form which needs to be lodged.

I am also a Teachers Aide (Special) and have witnessed the stress sitting the Naplan can have even on the most capable and confident students and I want to share my thoughts with you.

I think all families who have children with special needs should sit down and discuss the following issues and you may even be able to come up with some more relating to your child.  Once discussed, you will be able to make an informed decision and will be able to notify the school and state your position confidently.

  • Is your child going to be able to complete and participate in the Naplan exam with the adjustments that are available?  If no, speak to the school your child may be eligible for an exemption.  
  • Is the pressure of the exam going to bring unwanted meltdowns or behaviours?  Is it worth the pressure on the child and your family?  Does the pressure outweigh the benefits of sitting the exam?
  • What is it you want to get out of your child sitting the Naplan?  Do you want to compare them state, nationally?  Do they need it to apply for another school or scholarship? This is ok, just think about why?
  • Is your child going to be able to work to their potential on the day?  Are you going to get an accurate result on the day?  Would you be better to rely on school reports and class work to get an idea of how your child is performing?
  • How does your child feel about the Naplan?  Is your child feeling pressured and stressed about the Naplan?
  • Is your child excited or happy about doing the Naplan?  Some children thrive in these conditions and don’t feel any stress.

Once you have thought about these points and there may be other points you also think of with your family and you have made a decision in relation to your child.  Get in contact with your school and discuss.  A least now you will be confident with your decision.

If you decide you want your child to sit the Naplan congratulations and good luck.

You may like to visit Part 2 of my blog: Special Needs – Sitting Naplan – Tips for sitting the exam.  This discusses some of the adjustments that are available to special needs students.   Read and then consult your school one or more of these adjustments may be available for your child.

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