Well here it is again-NAPLAN!  NAPLAN, for those who don’t live in Australia, is whole nation testing in Year Five, Seven and Nine in the areas of English and Math. It comes around so quickly that NAPLAN Tips is possibly the best I can offer at this time.

In this article I want to take a wander down the path of “what other things can potentially destroy high results.”  This is the road of executive functioning.

Not all children gain low marks because of academics, they score low marks for a variety of reasons. This is why I have been noting student behaviours to try and eliminate poor results that really don’t show true potential. Look at this small example

John is a boy in Year Three. He is a bright boy but lacks motivation and the ability to begin, maintain and complete a task. So, in order to accomplish the task, he rushes and ticks anything to show that he has completed what was asked. Following standardised assessment, I decided to investigate what John could and couldn’t do in his reading test because he had scored really poor marks. He had to read the text to me and then read the questions and provide the answers. This boy was able to score 100%. So, what is the matter-he has executive functioning difficulties that have to be addressed.

There are many children like John who can’t manage their time and organise themselves. Children need to be taught strategies to improve these areas. That is why at the end of each year when standardised assessment is conducted, we monitor behaviours that influence the testing results. Then from that time forward we work at minimising these behaviours in class.

John will have practise at reading his work to an adult and completing the task step by step. This strategy will encourage him to stop rushing and to complete one task and then have a small break. Following the break, he will read the next activity and so on. In order to change behaviours it takes about three weeks. So this will be a laborious journey for the adult and John. But I can assure you that the rewards will be bountiful.

Throughout the term John should be following a rigorous plan to build resilience in all areas of work. He has to have practise to know that he has to keep to timeframes. John has practised one reading test and has received good marks. He will now move to completing two reading pieces to an adult in one session and his results will be checked again. Throughout the week John is practising his strategies to be less of a procrastinator  and more of a resilient student.

Strategies to increase executive function and decrease procrastination include:

Setting proximal sub goals for the task -for NAPLAN this would mean that the student finishes one reading and its relevant questions and then has a break. If practises have been introduced earlier this may even be two readings before a break is needed. While having the break I like the children to do some heavy duty work which will help them to concentrate and  be still for the next session. The heavy duty work could be as simple as placing their hands on their seats and lifting their bodies off the seat for a few seconds. Additionally, the children should have access to a drink of water and a toilet break.

Use Goals

Having a goal will help the student move closer to independence. This goal should be set out so that the daily work to be completed is documented and checked as it is finalised. The daily efforts will lead to weekly goals along the path to success. Once the child has completed the sub weekly goal it can be highlighted to show completion. This in itself can be a great motivator.

John’s goal is to complete a NAPLAN sample reading test in one session with a break mid session

Sub goal One: complete a reading and answer questions orally to an adult

Sub goal Two: complete two readings and answer questions orally to an adult

Sub goal Three: complete three readings and answer questions orally to an adult

Sub goal Four: complete one reading and answer questions independently

Sub goal Five : complete two readings and answer questions independently

Sub goal Six: complete three readings and answer questions independently

You can now see how I have increased the load of work and then moved to independence. Once independence commences make sure that the adult is still in range and monitors progress.

Work towards mastery of sub goals before moving on to other goals-

If the sub goals are consolidated this will mean that the child will procrastinate less and move ahead with confidence to the next level. Going through these sub goals could take many weeks but the effort put in will be well rewarded. Behaviours will be modified and results will be improved.

These strategies can be used at home to have daily chores completed.

Sometimes we hear teachers or adults berating a child for NOT starting and completing a task. Chastising has no place in eliminating deficit behaviours. It is necessary to model a new behaviour and set up a goal so that expectations are achievable. These changes will influence results in NAPLAN and all other areas of the curriculum and later in work positions.

Leave a comment in the box below and let me know if you have another problem that could be hampering your child’s results.

Ann Foster tutors children who have difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.

Contact Ann 0n 0414340883 or email


Ann holds the following qualifications:

Diploma of Teaching

Bachelor of Educational Studies

Master of Education ( Special Needs)

Master of Education (Counselling & Guidance)

Ann has also studied specialised units at the London and Pennsylvanian Universities