The little-known NAPLAN fact: Parents can withdraw their child, without a reason


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IT’S the controversial test that inspires fear in many an Australian school student.

But unbeknown to many parents, they have the option of withdrawing their child from the controversial NAPLAN exams, without any reason.

Most parents labour under the illusion that the annual exams for years 3, 5 7 and 9 students are compulsory.

But the May test, designed to provide a marker of Australian students’ literacy and numeracy skills, does not have to be sat if a parent wishes to withdraw their child.

The test frequently strikes fear into many school students, particularly those in the younger years.

And, while it is little known, parents are able to withdraw their child for any reason, including if it is creating high levels of anxiety.

“While participation by all students in NAPLAN is expected, students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer,” a spokeswoman for the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting authority said.


“This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers and it is recommended that any withdrawal be considered in consultation with a child’s school.”

ACARA’s official guide to NAPLAN for parents does not indicate that parents can withdraw their child except for religious or philosophical reasons.

However, it does not detail to parents that there is nothing stopping them pulling their child out of the testing process, if they wish to do so.

“Withdrawals are intended to address issues such as religious beliefs and philosophical objections to testing and should be a carefully considered decision,” the ACARA spokeswoman said.

The controversial test was introduced in 2008 and has seen withdrawal numbers climb.

According to the NAPLAN 2016 report, 2.7 per cent of Australian year 3 students were withdrawn by their parents or carer from sitting the literacy test, compared to just 1.6 per cent in 2008.


The numbers have steadily risen since its introduction, across all year levels.

The lowest number of literacy withdrawals in 2016 was year 7, with 2.0 per cent.

In year 5, it was 2.3 per cent and in year 9 it was 2.5 per cent.

All year level had withdrawal numbers below 1.2 per cent in its introductory year.

The tests have been mired in controversy over the years, with some parents claiming their school has instructed their child not to sit the test, in order to boost their chances of obtaining higher overall scores of literacy and numeracy.

The marker of a school’s performance also puts undue pressure on some students to perform.

Brisbane-based psychologist Emma O’Leary told Fairfax Media last year that while nerves were normal, some students can suffer debilitating anxiety before they sit the tests.

“Clinically, we see a distinct spike in exam-related anxiety both in the lead-up to NAPLAN testing, and again just prior to the results being released,” Dr O’Leary said.

However, ACARA urges parents to think carefully about withdrawing their child, saying the less students who sit the test, the less complete the annual snapshot is.

“NAPLAN is the measure through which governments, education authorities, schools, teachers and parents can determine whether or not young Australians have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for other learning and for their productive and rewarding participation in the community,” the spokeswoman said.

“Maximum participation by all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 is crucial to ensuring that children have these vital skills which they will need throughout their life after school.”

Online Source: The NEWS

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