NAPLAN and the cultural logics of parenting: Classed practice and the reproduction of inequality

Kellie Bousfield

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This research examines how caregivers’ social class impacts their engagement with the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Social class inequity is a persistent issue in Australian schools. Extant research has examined NAPLAN and continued inequity in contexts of school markets, school, and/or teacher quality. Caregivers’ engagement with NAPLAN, however, has received scant attention despite family background remaining the key determinant of students’ educational outcomes. Drawing on case studies of high and low SES schools, and parent interviews, this research reveals how social class impacts caregivers’ understandings and actions towards NAPLAN. Utilising Bourdieu’s ‘thinking tools’, and Lareau’s cultural logics of childrearing, findings suggest identifiable classed practices, with middle-class parents more likely to customise their NAPLAN interactions to suit theirs and their child’s preferences and working-class caregivers more likely to accept the authority of the school in relation to what should happen in NAPLAN examination years. These findings capture a moment of social and cultural reproduction in a context of standardised testing by illustrating activation of parental habitus as an educational resource in an institutional setting. Unless direct government intervention occurs in this context, the enduring relationship between SES and educational outcomes will remain an unresolved social issue in Australian education.


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