Karen Lomas
April 17, 2023

Career Coaching for Students: NAPLAN Tests

Parents of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, wonder what the benefit is, to their child, of the NAPLAN Tests. It can cause stress and be an anxious time for students. The NAPLAN tests have just been conducted in schools a few weeks ago, so it seems like a good time to be talking about it.

In this article, I will explain how I think parents can help their child to see some benefits from sitting assessments, such as NAPLAN. Let’s start by looking at the NAPLAN and then I’ll tell you why test results can help your child.

What is the NAPLAN?

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, or NAPLAN, assessments test the types of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life. Introduced in 2008, the tests cover skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy. The assessments are undertaken every year.

What is important for parents to consider is that, since 2016, NAPLAN testing has been aligned with the Australian English and Mathematics Curriculum. So at least there is no distinct, or different content being assessed. Students cannot and are not expected to prepare for the NAPLAN.

The reason for introducing this testing was to provide consistency in monitoring literacy and numeracy levels nationally. Educators like having these assessment results because they can see how their school is performing compared to others. It is deemed “essential for school improvement and resource allocation.

I don’t want to dwell upon the critique of the NAPLAN assessments. Parents can access the various data and the opinions of some educators and commentators elsewhere. Briefly, there is evidence that NAPLAN has been counterproductive in its aim to raise achievement, details of which are included in the 2020 federal review of NAPLAN. This isn’t essential reading now, as you’ll end up going down a rabbit hole… (maybe save it for another day…)

What I’d rather discuss here is the role of testing when applied to career development coaching for students.

Testing and Career Development

NAPLAN tests don’t cover a wide range of aptitudes, whereas career coaching activities and career assessments can add value by providing clarity around your child’s overall strengths and preferences. Career coaching support is therefore highly motivating for your child and can bring a big boost to a disengaged student. Believe me. I’ve worked with 100s of year 9s, senior secondary students, as well as school leavers. It’s a fantastic feeling to witness this shift!

Professional career consultants and counsellors, such as myself, use resources such as activities and assessments as part of their coaching process. The resources that I use are all based on theoretical frameworks, most of which are, in turn, underpinned by psychological assessments and theories. For example, we use inventories using scaling questions ie On a scale from 1 to 6, (where 1 is not interested and 6 is super keen) do you feel x, y,z? I also use visual aids and explore metaphors to explore a child’s career curiosity and concerns.

Career Coaching for younger students

In career coaching for year 3, 5 and 7 students, it’s activities, not testing, that career coaches use. These introduce children to the world of work. Such activities are super fun and children really enjoy tasks such as interviewing their parents or deciding which of a number of characters they would rather play with.

So I’m not suggesting putting your young child through further tests, after only just having sat the NAPLAN. No, that’s for later on. But starting career coaching early can be a great way of readying your child for such extracurricular activities as Volunteering, Work Experience Placements, and Part-Time/Summer Jobs.

Other questioning techniques, including exploring negative/irrational beliefs, can highlight a child or teenager having some issues with self-esteem and other considerations. Image your child’s NAPLAN score in one or more of the assessments has made them feel sad about their result. I can re-frame this with them in a number of ways, so that can cheer them up and give them renewed vigour and enthusiasm for their schooling.

Career Coaching for Middle School and Senior Secondary age Students

So I do not offer aptitude assessments for junior school-age students. However, by the time your child is 14 years of age, so in year 9, when they sit the last of the NAPLAN assessments, I use the Morrisby Online Career Assessment (MO). This opens up testing to include Interests and other Preferences. Why do this now? First of all, it is at this age stage that your child can apply for jobs and by year 10, they might also be expected to carry out Work Experience, through their school. But it can also help enormously to know where else your child’s strengths lie. This helps them to choose from a big list of subjects for the following years.

Additionally, non-assessed strengths can be unearthed and highlighted. I do not solely rely upon questions or the Narrative Approach. As previously mentioned, I also do have a suite of Activities (worksheets etc) and also Psychometric Assessments, such as the amazingly comprehensive Morrisby Online Career Assessment (MO).

In Year-10 your child will be asked to choose their senior secondary years subjects. By way of using a career assessment, I can help your child in this tricky process. I’ve written about these resources before. There is the MO, the MBTI, Career Fast Track, Strong Interest Inventory and others. Some are deemed relevant and beneficial to students. For over 10 years I’ve used the Morrisby Online Career Assessment. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I was even able to successfully pivot to the online provision of services. Indeed, research has shown that career coaching online is incredibly successful. I address this in a separate blog post.

The Morrisby Online Career Assessment (MO)

The Morrisby Online Career Assessment (MO) is my tool of choice from year 9 onwards. This is a lot more detailed report that the NAPLAN. In reviewing, or “unpacking” their report, I can show your child their results regarding their relative strengths. 5 aptitude results are given in their MO Report: Verbal, Numerical, Abstract, Visual-Spacial and Mechanical. Not all students find maths and English easy, but they may well have strengths in other areas. That’s exciting to unearth.

So if your child is concerned about their NAPLAN result, you can reassure them by offering them career coaching support. They’ll then look beyond reading, writing and numeracy to see what else they offer the world and what the world can offer them. Career Coaching with KYCC provides your child with detailed Career Action Plans, with embedded activities and resources, to follow. A Career Action Plan is then reviewed after a period; a term, or a semester perhaps, so as to assess their progress. In this way, I can provide career clarity at the appropriate age stages throughout their secondary schooling and beyond.

Consider student career coaching, with Karen Your Career Coach, for your child. This will take them from narrow knowledge based on NAPLAN testing, to a big picture reveal as to what they might do, work-wise, after school.

Go to www.karenyourcareercoach.com.au and complete the enquiry form, contact Tracey on 0419390994, or email [email protected] to find out more about our products and services

So if the student has other reports; perhaps including their NAPLAN test results, most parents and students are happy and keen to share those results with me. Bringing all of this data together helps my in my coaching. That said, it is by no means obligatory to provide school reports, or test results, such as your child’s NAPLAN. I’m interested in a student’s relative strengths, so I can unearth this in conversation.

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