A soggy wet envelope

A soggy wet envelope

In mailboxes across the country, families of kids in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will have just received, or will be receiving their NAPLAN results. Ours arrived last week. That large white envelope stuck up out of the letterbox, with a menacing look about it.

It rained the day it arrived. But then we live in Melbourne, so it rains a lot. I’m not sure the two things are connected. But it did leave the envelope all soggy, making the pages inside stick together and become almost unreadable.

We carefully slipped it out of the envelope and pulled it apart to read. The results were good. Excellent in fact. On par with the last lot of results from almost two years ago.

Yet the lead up to both of these tests could not have been more different.

Last time, Poss wasn’t encouraged to sit the test at all and in the end, only ended up taking part in elements of it. She sat away from her peers and did the tests on her own. We were told again and again that it was unlikely she would do well, her comprehension, motor skills and concentration just weren’t up to standard.

For memory there were no less than two meetings about it, there might have even been more, and countless emails. It was just another in a series of battles that it felt like we were losing. Battle scarred, by that point we were over it and just ready for it all to wash over us. The path of least resistance.

This time there wasn’t even a question. Of course she’d complete the testing. All of it. And she’d do it with her peers. And that was the end of that.

Her anxiety and stress about the testing was about the same both times, despite the incredibly different approaches by her school. She wants to do well in these things; it’s like she wants to prove she can do it. Even though we’ve told her again and again that we really don’t care.

To see the results come back almost exactly the same (although this time round she completed all sections), just reinforces for me how little these tests actually mean.

Sure, it’s great to have the knowledge that compared to the average, in this particular set of testing, Poss does ok academically. There’s no doubt that there is a certain reassurance in that and for that I’m grateful. However, we could (and do) get that though from talking with her lovely teacher, who tells us (and her) this on a regular basis.

It’s just one measure, on one day, in one part of that day. Does it mean anything, really? No. Is it worth the anguish it’s caused over the years in dealing with her old school? No. Is it worth the stress and anxiety that Poss puts herself through? No.

It’s simply a soggy, wet envelope sticking out of the letterbox.

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  1. I’m happy for Poss that she wants to try – for me school was not a fun place to be from year 5 on-wards. I think I could have been truly good at studying if they had not bumped me and 4 others up to a 5/6 class with people I did not know or like, and then made the 5 of us do homework which nobody in grade 5 had to do. I was really annoyed and refused to do homework at all from that point onwards.

    I also feel like, if I’d had a teacher who loved Maths and knew how to make it interesting to me, I could have been a lot more mathematical than I turned out. 🙂
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  2. I remember the “basic skills test” in NSW in the 90s… I was devo that I wasn’t the best in my class… seriously in tears,,,,
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  3. katepickle says:

    Our envelopes were soggy too… but they both had interesting lessons in them, but not academic ones.
    One of my girls learned that struggling with hard, isolating, soul crushing stuff doesn’t change what she enjoys and is good at.
    The other learned that tests only show what happened on the day… nothing more.
    I’m glad you guys had a positive experience, but I agree… it’s just a soggy piece of paper in the end.

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