A Comprehensive Guide to NAPLAN

Updated: Aug 24

Belrose Tutoring Academy's Comprehensive Guide to NAPLAN

What is NAPLAN?

NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) is a standardised assessment conducted each year for all students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

There are 4 parts of the test; reading, writing, language conventions (which includes grammar, punctuation and spelling) and numeracy.

What is the purpose of NAPLAN?

NAPLAN results are used by educational authorities, governments, schools, teachers, parents and tutors, to assess the literacy and numeracy capabilities of young Australians. They reflect how an individual student is performing at the time of the tests and as they are standardised, they can be useful for determining how a student is performing against their peers or how a school is performing against other schools.

It is important to note though, NAPLAN only makes up one aspect of a school's assessment and reporting process, and there is ongoing debate amongst politicians, educators and academics on how best to optimise the results obtained from these assessments, whether the publication of results is beneficial or harmful to the Australian education system and the overall efficacy of the NAPLAN examinations.

How are NAPLAN results used?

NAPLAN was introduced back in 2008 by Julia Gillard with ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) managing the tests from 2010 onwards.

As of March 8, 2017, NAPLAN performance results began to be published on the My School website (https://www.myschool.edu.au/) which states that "My School supports national transparency and accountability of Australia's schools, by publishing nationally-consistent school-level date about every school in Australia." https://www.myschool.edu.au/

How do schools and teachers use NAPLAN results?

Data collected from the NAPLAN examinations can be used by schools and teachers to compare their students to a wider group across Australia, or even, compare their students to similar students in their local demographic.

Further, the results can identify students who may require additional support, ensuring no student is left behind.

Overall, whilst the results are extremely useful for comparing students against other students, they may be best used by schools to compare their own learning programs and systems year-on-year. More specifically, schools can use these results, in combination with their own internal metrics, to identify strengths and weaknesses and develop academic goals for the years ahead.

How can parents and students use NAPLAN results?

The Year 3 NAPLAN tests are the first time parents are able to see how their child is comparing against their peers both from within the school and against the national average. Going forward in years 5, 7 and 9, you will be able to compare each year's results to see the progress your child is making under the headings assessed in NAPLAN, that is reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy.

One of the easiest ways to see your child's progress would be to compare how your child has progressed over the 2 year periods relative to the school average. For example, if your child was 1 band below the school average in their year 3 NAPLAN results for reading, you could assume your child has improved relative to their peers if they had narrowed the gap or even surpassed the school average. These results shouldn't be the only way you track your child's academic progress, I list numerous issues with the NAPLAN testing below.

Whilst the example listed above is relevant for parents or carers already with children in school, the NAPLAN results can also provide valuable insight for those families who are still deciding which school is most suited to them.

As the My School website rightly points out, "the inclusion of data about how schools perform in NAPLAN provides information on only one aspect of school performance and does not measure overall school quality" and "a child’s teacher will have the best insight into educational progress."