Year 5 NAPLAN scores may shape career goals - Education Matters Magazine

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Year 5 NAPLAN scores may shape career goals

School safety

Year 5 students are choosing a career path based on circumstances such as their performance in NAPLAN tests, a new study in New South Wales finds.

Students with increased NAPLAN scores are more skewed towards subjects such as interest in science, law, engineering, architecture, social work and arts, and students who consider their academic performance to be above average are more likely to choose medicine, a study of 6492 students from years 3 to 12 across 64 NSW public schools has found.

One of the study’s authors, Professor Jenny Gore, Director of the University of Newcastle’s teachers and teaching research centre, told Fairfax Media the way primary school tests are handled could have long-term impacts on students’ aspirations.

“I think we have to be careful in schools not to too quickly label children as low achieving, because kids develop early ideas of their own abilities,” Professor Gore said.

“‘Objective’ measures of achievement such as NAPLAN scores and ‘subjective’ measures or perceptions of their achievement were both strong predictors of kids’ interests.

“Some early testing is absolutely critical to identifying areas in which they need support and providing the right kind of support. But I think it’s how that information gets through to kids that can negatively impact their perceptions.”

A spokesman for the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) told Fairfax Media it supports “early intervention”.

“ACARA believes that good assessment, including NAPLAN, is central to identifying literacy and numeracy needs as early as possible to prevent cumulative skill deficits,” the spokesman said.

“Teachers are well placed to talk with individual students and their parents about the things that each student can do well and areas where they can improve.

“Low levels of literacy and numeracy will have a significant impact on young people’s aspirations and learning at school and later in life.”

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