Education ministers approve major changes to NAPLAN

Education ministers approve major changes to NAPLAN

NAPLAN will undergo sweeping changes after Australia’s education ministers unanimously agreed on a new proficiency standard aimed at improving students’ literacy and numeracy outcomes.

The new proficiency standard, with four levels of achievement [Exceeding, Strong, Developing and Needs additional support], will replace the previous 10-band structure and the old national minimum standard set in 2008.

Read more: Is literacy education in Australia on the right track?

From this year, the assessment will be conducted entirely online and held in March instead of May, with parents and schools to receive individual results in July.

The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA), which announced the changes on Friday, said the overhaul will provide a clearer picture of student learning progress and put data into the hands of teachers and parents sooner.

‘This is powerful information in the hands of parents and teachers’

ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho said the changes mark a “reset” for NAPLAN that makes use of the online adaptive tests to deliver better information for parents, carers and teachers.

“The standard for proficiency is set at a challenging but reasonable level. If your child is in the Strong or Exceeding category, it means they have demonstrated proficiency and that their literacy or numeracy skills are where they should be at this stage of their schooling,” de Carvalho said.

“If your child has not yet achieved proficiency, then they will either be in the Developing category or the Needs additional support category. This is powerful information in the hands of parents/carers and teachers.”

de Carvalho said the changes will also enable more meaningful conversations between parents/carers and teachers about how children and young people are developing the foundational skills they need.

“The proficiency standards represent a reasonable expectation of student achievement at the time of testing, with questions in NAPLAN tests based mostly on the literacy and numeracy skills students have learnt from previous years of schooling.”

The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) executive director Jacinta Collins said the new NAPLAN testing schedule will require a transition phase.

"Moving NAPLAN to earlier in the year will allow our school leaders and teachers to access literacy and numeracy data sooner to inform teaching and to put in place interventions to improve the foundation skills critical for success in schooling," Collins said.

“As with all change, there may be a few teething issues as schools and families get used to a new timetable and way of reporting, but it's important that we continue to develop more effective and rigorous ways of assessing where students are at, and how we can better support them.”

Collins added that while the new reporting approach won't be able to make direct comparisons to previous NAPLAN data, the ministers have agreed that individual jurisdictions can work with ACARA on the feasibility of comparative or research studies utilizing previous data.

“NAPLAN will need to keep evolving as we improve our capacity to assess and report on student learning.”