NAPLAN results are never far from the headlines. When results are received they are often reviewed through a set of perception filters. Earlier this year Dr Don Carter led a study by three universities on NAPLAN testing. They found, among other things that "NAPLAN is being used as an indicator of school quality and teacher quality when it was never intended for those two things. Executives are worried that the reputation of the school is going to suffer if NAPLAN results are not good,"
This is further compounded by the level of influence that schools can actually have over NAPLAN results. Metadata has suggested, as cited by Peter Hutton from the Future Schools Alliance, that schools have as little as 20-25% influence over the NAPLAN results of students, with up to of achievement being 60% intrinsic and 10-15% being environmental. Linked with this, summative testing cannot measure a student’s creativity and engagement and so, unfortunately, the testing favours students with high literacy levels. Literacy levels that can be pre-existing and are very closely linked with the amount of reading that is being done out of school.
Perhaps most importantly, it cannot measure emotional intelligence or what is also known as emotional quotient (EQ) which is increasingly being recognised as essential for successful relationships and careers. NAPLAN is capable of showing us changes over time but like all summative tests, it is a snap shot at one point in time and a range of factors can impact an individual’s performance on any day.
According to Jay Munro in The Age, EQ is made up of two things: personal competence and social competence. Together, both of these elements can help you understand how well you can use your emotions to help you develop relationships and have a positive career. Those with a high level of personal competence often have the self-awareness to perform at their best. They have the self-knowledge to identify their own character traits; they can maintain their energy, motivation and positivity as a result and are therefore inspiring and productive. A high EQ helps you understand how your behaviour influences those around you and allows you to build stronger relationships at school and in life.
Empathy and social skills are the most important elements of social competence, the second element of EQ. The ability to perceive how others are feeling at a level deep enough to be both appropriate and compassionate is a very valuable skill. It can draw others to you and empower you to unite teams.
Social skills are learnt through personal interaction, especially when there is the scope for unlikeable behaviour. We regularly learn appropriate social skills through making mistakes, however, unless we have the capacity to reflect on our behaviour, or we are called out on it, the opportunity for reflection is lost and unlikeable behaviour continues.
At Westminster, we strive to ensure that our values, pastoral system, curriculum and co-curricular opportunities allow all of our students to leave school with a high EQ. Likewise, we want all of our students to do as well as they can in any testing, NAPLAN included. More importantly, we want our students to leave school as well-balanced individuals, who have the cognitive, emotional, social and cultural capacity to influence the outside world in a positive way.
I hope that you all have a fantastic break and look forward to seeing you all next term.