Screw NAPLAN

Yes, NAPLAN. For those who don’t know, NAPLAN stands for National Assesment Program Literacy and Numeracy. It is a standarized test that helps the government decide which schools to fund.

This year the government put NAPLAN online, this is great for the environment and costs less but makes it a lot harder for students to read and has many variables that were not accounted for, such as students not owning computers or headphones and poor wifi. This meant that many students missed the test or had to repeat it.

NAPLAN is the perfect example of an easily avoidable high stress situation. Even without the added variables that come with online testing, NAPLAN is known to be a hellscape for students.

Reasons it is a hellscape:

1. During NAPLAN all normal school work and assesments go ahead regardless of the added pressure. I personally had 3 assesments due the same week as NAPLAN and missed performing for another one because of the make-up sessions.

2. NAPLAN has no topic specific study areas. Given its broad assesment NAPLAN has no specific areas to study in, this causes stress for all students and teachers trying to prepare. Tests from prior years can be used but aren’t reliable.

3. The knowledge that your report impacts the schools reputation and funding. This is less of an issue for the early years of NAPLAN, however the knowledge that you are directly contributing to the judgement of your school and teachers is extremely stressful, even if your impact is minor.

4. NAPLAN is designed with no consideration towards the needs of the person assessed, whether those needs are extended time to read the questions or if the person doesn’t speak English as a first language.

5. NAPLAN is a standardized test with one answer per question, this leaves little room for critical thinking and the differences between student thought processes.

What could be done instead of or to minimise the stress of NAPLAN:

1. The attitude to schools survey. The Attitude to School Survey is used alongside NAPLAN to choose what schools to fund and what programs to use in schools, if this survey got further elaborated on it could make it easier to choose the schools that prioritized people, more specifically students, over their performance in the limited areas of literacy and numeracy.

2. More communication with classroom teachers. Many of the government officials who made NAPLAN aren’t classroom teachers or are teachers who aren’t in the same area of teaching as many primary and highschool teachers. The disruption of routine caused by NAPLAN makes a classroom harder to work in for students and teachers therefore making the voices of the teachers more important.

3. Assess schools based on the quality of student wellbeing and student encouragement instead of a standard grade. This was mentioned in the attitude to school survey however it could be brought up in regards to the schools’ wellbeing programs or the students’ access to help services within the school. Eg. Does the school have a safe space for students to go when overwhelmed or frightened? Does the school encourage the students to support each other emotionally and to get help when needed? Etc.

4. Accommadate the students during NAPLAN. Put regular test dates on seperate weeks to NAPLAN or have specials at the canteens for that week, let the students know that NAPLAN is optional and tell them that it’s okay to be stressed if they are participating. Remind the students that they are more than a grade on paper. If the student needs more time to finish the test because they read slower or can’t type as quickly give them more time to finish the test. It’s not hard to help the students, ask them what they need.

5. Look at the schools art, music, drama and sport programs. Promote creativity and self expression rather than fitting into the HB pencil shaded bubbles. Literacy and numeracy are important however they tend to draw away from the thing that will show student potential the most: passion. Literacy and writing in particular can show the students potential creatively and numeracy shows analytical thinking and pattern spotting, however the students who don’t excel at either of these components get left behind in school because there is a lack of encouragement from a governmental standpoint.

To conclude, NAPLAN isn’t a positive reinforcement of learning nor is it a useful for students. Please share to any Australians you may know to spread the message.

Written by Darrell, an annoyed student who very much dislikes NAPLAN.

Continue reading “Screw NAPLAN”

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Road Trip

We are home! The seemingly endless drive from the Gold Coast to Melbourne is done and it wasn’t awful.

Roadtrips are awesome. New places, new people and most importantly, new book shops. Unfortunately we didn’t stop in as many places as we would have hoped but here are some we have seen.

First up is all the empty fields:

And the toiletless rest stops (Much to mum’s dismay) :

We went to Dubbo Zoo,

As well as the Parkes Telescope (So cool):

Overall, it has been a lot of fun, very tiring, but lots of fun.

Sleeping Bendy

Mum says I “sleep bendy,” I’m not entirely sure what that means but it makes sense. I think “sleeping bendy” translates to a few things that people don’t realize about BJHS.

I sleep bendy so I need more pillows to avoid injury in my sleep.

When I fall asleep in chairs I curl around them.

When I sleep wrong it means more pain for a few days.

I sleep bendy and it means that I am an excellent cuddle partner (who needs to worry about space when I can curl up into *the* tiniest ball ever.)

Sleeping bendy can hurt, it can mean paying extra for more pillows, it can mean using people as pillows when necessary (sorry mum), sleeping bendy means being tired because you couldn’t sleep because you were too bendy sometimes.

To all those sleeping bendy, it’s okay, keep doing your best. Sleeping bendy is better than no sleep at all.

Sensory Stuff

Autism does weird stuff when you’re overwhelmed.

I love swimming, it’s why we are travelling for the commonwealth games but when you’re autistic the things you love can get overwhelming.

I had forgotten to pack my swimmers, mistake number one, so I had to get new ones. The ones I got were in a style I don’t usually wear and I had to get shorts to wear over them, another new thing. I usually swim in indoor, chlorinated pools or the ocean and I was in an outdoor, salt water pool.

The water was cold and too shallow for me to swim in properly, I tried backstroke but the new swimmers plus the hot/cold contrast from the air and water started to cause sensory overwhelm. I couldn’t swim and I was desperate for the familiar feeling of the water, not a good time. I (thankfully) was able to verbalise the overwhelm and mum found an amazing alternative, the spa!

It was warm, chlorinated, under cover and deep enough to cover my whole body. Definite win. I spent a long time in the spa and by the time i got out the overwhelm from earlier and the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar place had passed.

Autism is funny sometimes, in the way that it makes little things, like the lack of chlorine in the pool, feel distressing.

So next time you see a person with autism trying a new thing, think about all the smaller new things inside it, you never know how much energy it’s taking them just to try.

Flying with BJHS

BJHS (Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome) is a pain in the everything to fly with.

I woke up at 3am for the flight and everything was okay, no joint pain. And then came the sitting in the taxi, and in the airport, and in the plane, and on the bus. Sitting down hurts because of the pressure on my back, cushions help but there weren’t any to use at the time so that would hurt by itself, add in that I hadn’t had my anti-inflamatory medication for a week and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Once off the bus breakfast and anti-inflamatories were my top priority, however medication can only do so much. So my next step was buying heatpacks, this took longer than expected (3 frickin hours) and the pain was making it hard to walk.

^ My nutritious breakfast ^

Once we got home I spent about two hours lying like this:

(Those things on my back are heatpacks. Aka: Life Saving Magic Bags)

^ The heatpacks are only $9 each! ^

In conclusion:

Heat packs = Yes

Hard chairs = No