Aussie Friends: Whitlam Institute – Parental Attitudes.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

Probable Protectors of School Children

Stress – A Curriculum Imperative?

On 27/11/13, the Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney, published its third report on its project ‘to examine the questions concerning the NAPLAN testing regime within the context of the purposes of education and the best interests of the children, as defined by the Melbourne Declaration of 2009.’

The First phase examined the literature of the world and found that ‘…there are serious concerns internationally about the impact the tests have on students.

‘What emerged consistently in the international research were serious concerns regarding the impact of high stakes testing on student health and well-being, learning, teaching and curriculum. The consistency of these findings raised legitimate questions and deep concern regarding the Australian experience.”

The Second phase examined the impact of high-stakes testing on school pupils and their families.

“The report suggested that the NAPLAN testing regime is plagued by unintended consequences well beyond its stated intent and added weight to the contention that it does represent a shift in ‘high stakes’ testing.

The findings not only confirmed those trends identified in research conducted in the USA and the UK, but also provided substantial evidence on the impacts NAPLAN is having on the Australian curriculum, pedagogy, staff morale, schools’ capacity to attract and retain students and more importantly students’ health and well-being.”

This third paper reports on Parental Attitudes and Perceptions Concerning NAPLAN. About one-third [34%] of all parents are opposed to NAPLAN. A little over half [56%] are in favour. It’s not well liked. Only about 70% indicated that they found the information useful.

“It is noteworthy that around 40 percent of parents reported some sign of stress or anxiety exhibited by their child as a result of NAPLAN.”

This means that almost half of each class exhibits sufficient anxiety about a school induced operation that parents seriously notice it! 40%!!


The summary is available on

The full 16-page report is available on


The media has grasped the startling revelation that stress and anxiety is now embedded in the processes attached to NAPLAN testing. This outcome has to be of deep concern to anyone who likes children. Yesterday’s print press [SMH] quoted comments of interest…..

  1.  Dr. Eric Sidoti, Director of the Institute and co-author of the report [with Ms Justine Chambers] says that the perceived rate of stress was ‘not something to be ignored. Numbers of students show reasonably serious forms of anxiety. So, while you can discount to some degree, there’s enough here to suggest that’s it’s a little bit more serious than that.”
  2.  Naively, the general manager and measurement guru of ACARA the testing authority, Peter Adams, suggested that the level of anxiety was no more than the shaky-legs before a swimming race or school production. “They shouldn’t be anxious about it and in our observations teachers, parents and schools understand that. And if the student’s a little bit anxious, that might be because that’s just a natural reaction in some kids.”                                                                              (In our observations, Pete, – that’s the observations of practicing classroom teachers and school-based personnel everywhere– a natural reaction to ridiculous high-stakes testing is to be scared, vomit, feel inadequate, not sleep well beforehand, bully your mates later in the playground, cry, hate school – especially mathematics and literacy subjects.)
  3. Mother of nine-year-old Jemima said that she “wasn’t anxious, worried or overly concerned”. It was a good opportunity to teach her about exam preparation “because it is part of life and schooling…. We told her that it was a positive experience and a good opportunity for her to learn how to focus her mind in an exam environment and perform to the best of her ability.”

Peter Adams and the measurement cohort, complying teacher organisations and associations should feel proud that they have succeeded in making Australian schooling an exam-based activity.


 Surely there is sufficient evidence from all sorts of sources around the world for the Australian Primary Principals’ Association and the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association to call a halt to this assault of our 7 year olds to 15 year olds. They have the power to tell the political controllers to “knock it off – now. It’s undignified, unprofessional and unethical!”

It is grossly unethical for such things to operate in places where principals have to carry a serious professional curriculum responsibility. NAPLAN is a disgusting business; an offence to professional dignity


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue…Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443


One thought on “Aussie Friends: Whitlam Institute – Parental Attitudes.

  1. Pingback: The Great NAPLAN Scam Redux – Response or No Response? You Decide! | ozedreform

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