As the Fairfax media reports that more parents than ever were withdrawing their kids from the annual NAPLAN tests I wonder if these tests are even assessing the right things in school.


Now I realize the importance of literacy and numeracy – of course I do.


But, these tests only measure outcomes.


If we only assess the outcomes, we often misunderstand or completely ignore the causation.


What if we saw these “outcomes” as a by-product of genuine engagement and wellbeing in our schools?


What if – instead of striving to enhance scores, we sought to enhance the wellbeing of our kids (and teachers!).


What if – instead of trying to compete with our Asian neighbours in the numeracy league tables, we attempted to genuinely engage our students in a way that develops critical and creative thinkers with a real lifelong love of learning.


To be frank, engagement and wellbeing are pre-cursors to real achievement, but all too often we pursue achievement at the expense of our kids’ (and teachers’) sense of engagement and wellbeing.

I recently discovered this Gallup poll that aims to chart the levels of hope, engagement and wellbeing across students in Grades 5-12 across the United States.

In Australia, I know ACER have this survey on engagement as well as their wellbeing survey and I think it would be in your school’s best interests to know how your students are tracking in this regard.

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at and tweets at @danhaesler