Phoebe Kelman is a smart kid who works hard to get good marks in her year seven classes at St Philips High School in Port Stephens, three hours north of Sydney.The 13-year-old is a dedicated athlete, topping the region in shot-put and discus, and she wants to be a doctor.
For her, that dream was nearly forsaken when she received the results of her year five NAPLAN test two years ago.
"On the day when I found out my results, I was like, 'Oh, I thought I was doing so much better.' That ruined my confidence for a really long time," Phoebe said.
NAPLAN is a national set of literacy and numeracy tests sat by students across the country in years three, five, seven and nine.
After the year three test, Phoebe was ranked in the nation's top tier, but before the year five test she was forced to take time away from school due to complications from pneumonia.
"In the year five tests, Phoebe found herself ranked in the middle and she was so sad," her mother, Christine McNamara, said.
"If they don't do well, they feel they're failures."
This year's NAPLAN tests were cancelled due to COVID-19 and for parents like Ms McNamara, that was a good thing.
"Three out of four of my kids were due to sit NAPLAN this year and I can't tell you how relieved I was when it was cancelled due to COVID-19," she said.
Some in the education sector want to see NAPLAN abandoned into the future too.
A review led by the New South Wales Education Department and backed by Victoria, Queensland and the ACT has proposed a new standardised test called ANSA.
It would replace NAPLAN and seek to address a few of the main concerns with the existing test.
The new test would be moved from the middle of the year to the start, meaning teachers, as well as outside tutors, would have less opportunity to coach for results — something parents have long complained about.
"Some teachers feel pressure to teach to the test at the beginning of the year," NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.
Ms McNamara said that stress was passed onto her kids.
"There is way too much pressure on kids to perform in NAPLAN," she said.
"As a mother, it's gut-wrenching to see the pressure these kids are being put under at such a young age.
"We didn't face pressure like that until the high school leaving certificate."