Kids speak out about Naplan


The Treehorn Express

Images of Treehorn

 TO:  Folk who care about kids, especially about those kids from 5-15 years of age, forced to go to school and ordered to sit for tests and examinations….the ‘Treehorns…………

used by the unscrupulous,

ignored by those who should care,

exploited by those who don’t.


 Our very special guests today are school children. The Treehorn Express exists because it cares for kids in school who have to suffer from the problems generated by forms of Standardised Blanket Testing. The general public prefers to ignore their plight, even that of the very, very young Year 3s who are pitilessly and shamefully assaulted by schooling measures that are meant to distress. There should be no need for The Treehorn Express to exist. That it does and that it is dedicated to a fictitious little primary school lad called Treehorn, who was totally ignored by his parents and teachers, conveys its own message. Its raison d’etre is justified while : “Most adults shamefully ignore the cognitive treatment and mental welfare of children at school.”

  It’s monstrous, but we don’t really care.

A group of school children dared to write to the Senate Inquiry into NAPLAN but not to provide its name. They were very brave, as was their school for sending the children’s pleas. Fear is part of the DNA of NAPLAN testing. It is now well embedded in Australia’s schooling culture.

Their submission is Number 90, listed amongst those submitters who withheld their name…. further down than the infamous 83 [See below]! See all Senate submissions.


Years 3,5,7,9 school children.

The following is a collation of responses to the NAPLAN Senate Inquiry terms of reference from a group of five Queensland school age children who have experienced NAPLAN testing, and wanted their thoughts on NAPLAN to be considered by the Senate Inquiry. We Australian adults can guarantee that their feelings will be ignored. We, generally speaking, can’t stand kids.

The Senate’s terms of reference are stated first in the following submission..


 “a) whether the evidence suggests that NAPLAN is achieving its stated objectives; (re-framed as ‘Does NAPLAN help you learn better? Does it help the teacher know what you know?’)

(8 years): “How can we learn from it? The teacher can’t even help with it. No it doesn’t because they just hand it to the government. They don’t even find out. Well they do, eventually. It does help a little bit to see who needs extra help with certain things. But barely.”

(15 years): “My experience of NAPLAN since grade three is that NAPLAN is not achieving its stated objective because the results are inaccurate and many students who have to participate, myself being one of them, do not care or try in NAPLAN. Therefore NAPLAN is not accurate.”

(16 years): “I didn’t care about it, so I just wrote crap.”

 b) unintended consequences of NAPLAN’s introduction; (re-framed as ‘Do some not-so-good thing happen that they don’t expect?’)

(8 years): “Yes. Some kids get scared. They think that if they don’t do well in NAPLAN they don’t pass their grade. I was very annoyed. It takes 3 days in a row. I don’t think that the first day, you shouldn’t have 2 on the first day. You should have time to get used to it. The classroom is really different with all the words and our work taken down. I don’t like it being like, empty … well, I’m thinking about other people as well, I’m not just thinking about myself. We should tell the government that this is a good question.”

(11): “Kids with anxiety will repeatedly try and kill themselves, if they have to keep on doing NAPLAN.”

(15 years): “Students not attending school on days there are NAPLAN practices. This means that students, especially in high school students, miss out on school days that are valuable for our education unlike NAPLAN. Students stress and worry about the NAPLAN results and stress on the day about failing NAPLAN. Some students worry if they do badly in NAPLAN they will not get into a good university because the Universities are Government funded and might ask for NAPLAN results. As a result, they think they will end up as homeless poor people because of this one test.”

 c) NAPLAN’s impact on teaching and student learning practices; (re-framed as ‘does your teacher change the way change she teaches when the tests get closer?’)

(8 years): “Yes. We had to do practice tests. I think the practice tests are harder than the actual thing. Maybe it’s to get you jumped up for the real thing. Maybe it’s just me. On one of the days we did 2 tests so we get to see what it feels like. I think we got more stressed out. The teacher marked off the time when it was done. Because when I got really stuck on a question I saw the teacher marking it off on the board. It’s a lot different to what we usually do, because we usually do like 2 pages, not that big. Probably no-one does group work because it’s NAPLAN.”

(11): “We waste time just practicing our NAPLAN which we have already practiced. And if we didn’t have NAPLAN we could be learning all kinds of things. It’s just a waste of time.”

(15 years): “High school students miss out on many important lessons due to NAPLAN. This results in students having to catch up on their school work at home which can result in sleep deprivation as well as stress which can lead to anxiety.”

 d) the impact on teaching and student learning practices of publishing NAPLAN test results on the MySchool website; (re-framed as ‘Do you know about the My School website and putting the results in the newspapers?)

(8 years): “Well they do have it in the newspaper and the news says when it’s a NAPLAN day. We don’t talk about it much at home. I think that talking about good schools and bad schools stresses people out. You can’t say oh that’s a bad school, it’s just ‘cause they need more help.”

(11 years): “NAPLAN NAPLAN it’s all our school talks about. We even do year 7 NAPLAN practice tests in year 6 when we don’t have to do it until year 7.”

(15 years): “My school does well in NAPLAN so there is only a small impact. However dueto my school doing well, we are reminded before NAPLAN that our school does well so we are pressured to perform so our school gets noticed.”

 e) potential improvements to the program, to improve student learning and assessment; (reframed as how can they make NAPLAN better?)

(8years): “Don’t make it three days in a row and don’t put 2 of them on the same day. They could give you a little more time, even 5 more minutes, I’d say. If you can’t read a question you should at least be able to ask the teacher. And if there’s a word you can’t read you could ask what that word is. Because I was thinking ‘what is that word, what is that word’ and it turned out it was famous. Well either way, like, this is one thing that happened when I did NAPLAN. They could raise some money for the poor schools so they could do better at NAPLAN and other learning that is better. You could give them money for books for their library and stuff like that. Because that would actually be pretty nice.”

(11 years): “Get rid of it. It’s a waste time.”

(15 years): “If you won’t scrap NAPLAN completely do not publish the results of the schools on the internet because this puts pressure on the teachers and students.” f) international best practice for standardised testing, and international case studies about the introduction of standardised testing; g) other relevant matters. (re-framed as ‘Is there anything else they haven’t thought of?)

(8 years): “I would like to put it on a fire. But the only good thing is it gets you out of work. The other reason I don’t like it is because you’re time limited. If you’re stuck on a really hard question and you haven’t done most of it, the government won’t know as much about what you can do.”

(15 years): “NAPLAN does not allow creativity to be explored as well as taking away imagination as students are not encouraged to be creative or use any creative thought patterns orhow to learn in creative, new or engaging ways. This is one way NAPLAN is taking away from The Arts. The other way is that people don’t think music, drama or art are important anymore.”


 83 Read it?






 Phil Cullen No. 83 A.M., A.Ed., B.Ed., Dip.Ed.Admin. M.Ed.Admin[Hons], Former Q’ld Director of Primary Education, FACE, FACEL, FQIEL,, Gold Medal FACEL, Life Member QSPSSA, QSPSCA,QSPSA,QSPPA,BPSRLSA. Founder:Treehorn Express, FNQPPA, Primary School Principal 23 years 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443                


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