I’m not sure what possessed me – whether the need to boost my earnings or a desire to be more informed – but I decided to sign up for marking NAPLAN this year.
For those reading outside of Australia, NAPLAN is the increasingly controversial National Assessment Program of Literacy and Numeracy that has been conducted annually for over a decade now. It took a hiatus in 2020 for obvious reasons but it’s back again now.
For NAPLAN, school students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 complete a few exams early in May, which of course… then have to be marked.
And whilst I could rabbit on about my pedagogical and political opinions about the testing, or the fact that the pay rate for marking is really not that great ($4.24 a paper!), I’ll leave those things to the side of this blog post.
Currently I’m “enjoying” reading a swathe of narratives written by the nation’s youth, which of course are at various levels, regardless of age.
I most enjoy reading the narratives that are probably written by someone who has a different cultural background to myself: a narrative that’s probably been written by a refugee, or a 3rd generation Greek Australian, or a kid from somewhere in the outback or an Indigenous child who brings a very different perspective to a prompt to write about ‘following tracks’.
Of course, they could be students with completely different backgrounds writing as a particular character, but you can usually tell by the level of understanding and control demonstrated, that they are writing about something they – or someone close to them – experienced.
We are one, but we are many.
So clearly demonstrated by what our children write about…
Experiencing that broad range of perspectives in children’s writing is what gets me through it all without sticking pins into my eyeballs.
Of course, as a Christian, it does make me think about a national assessment on a spiritual level. They say that education standards are dropping and that is of concern. But what about our spiritual standards? Is that dropping?
And is that of concern?
According to The Bible, unsurprisingly the answer is yes:
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Righteousness exalts. It exalts.
Exalt: to think or speak highly of someone; to raise to a higher rank.
I think if HNAC Alison heard the word ‘righteousness’ she’d think of some stuffy old religious dude in a Church with a pitcher of holy water plus ‘bells and smells’ who was being generally devoid of association with wider society and relevance.
I don’t think she’d think of a nation being exalted.
But that’s what The Bible says.
And The Bible says that to be righteous is to be ‘right with God’. You are blameless before him.
And another thing The Bible says is that the only way to be ‘right with God’ is by knowing Jesus Christ.
So, do you know Jesus?
Because at the end of the day being able to write a complex sentence with a projected clause followed up with some cohesive phrases to ensure coherent connection of plot… well, that’s a good thing; but what about being righteous?
I want children in Australia to be able to read and write. I truly do.
However, I think it’d be even better to be part of a nation exalted by God.
Yours in online marking,