At a meeting on July 2, Australia’s Education Ministers agreed that NAPLAN would continue, but it would be subject to “incremental reforms” in key areas.

Some of those changes include potentially shifting the test to “as early as possible in the school year” and turning around test results within two weeks.

Structural changes to the test were also agreed on (more on those later).

The changes are designed to “better inform teacher practice”, a statement released by Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said.

Ministers agreed the main NAPLAN test will still continue to be sat by students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – but that schools may be given the chance to “opt in” to additional assessments in the areas of Science Literacy, Digital Literacy and Civics and Citizenship in Years 6 and 10.

The details of the changes are still to be finalised and are subject to further discussions.

A quick re-cap on NAPLAN

NAPLAN (or the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) is a national point-in-time test that has occurred in Australian schools since 2008.

It assesses literacy and numeracy skills and has been conducted at the same time every year – May – to give families and schools an understanding of how individual students are performing at the time of the test.

It’s also designed to serve as a “barometer” to examine trends in a student’s achievement over time: are they continuing to build their skills in a certain area over the seven years of the test, or are they needing more help understanding key concepts?

NAPLAN is just one part of how a school assesses and reports on a student’s learning and is not designed to replace a teacher’s usual methods for monitoring and reporting on students’ progress.

As well as providing information about individual students, NAPLAN gives governments and monitoring authorities a “point-in-time” overview of how well Australian children are tracking in the important areas of literacy and numeracy.

NAPLAN is currently transitioning from a paper test to an online test -most schools took the online path in 2021.

2020’s review of NAPLAN

In August 2020, a major independent review of NAPLAN, commissioned by the Queensland, Victorian, New South Wales and ACT governments recommended a number of major changes to the test.

Its recommendations included: better aligning it with the Australian Curriculum; changing the writing test; changing the name; moving the test from May to earlier in the year; and testing students in Year 10 rather than year 9 to better inform Year 11 and 12 subject selections. Read more about that review in our September 2020 story.

What Education Ministers have agreed to in July 2021

At their July meeting, Education Ministers agreed:

  • That the writing test would continue to be conducted as a census test;
  • that the testing of spelling, grammar and punctuation (Conventions of Language) will be separate from writing as part of the annual census-based standardised assessment program;
  • that ACARA would work with jurisdictions to explore the feasibility of shifting of the test as early as possible in the school year and turn around test results in two weeks;
  • that the assessments remain in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9;
  • in-principle to enabling schools to “opt-in” to assessments in the domains of Science Literacy (including critical and creative thinking), Digital Literacy and Civics and Citizenship annually in Year 6 and Year 10 and request ACARA further develop the proposal for the next meeting;
  • that ACARA investigate the feasibility of incorporating critical and creative thinking in English and Mathematics into the existing NAPLAN domains, with advice to be provided to the next Education Ministers’ Meeting.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said NAPLAN “has been an important tool to inform teacher practice and give guidance to parents on how their child is progressing”.

“These incremental reforms will enhance these objectives,” Minister Tudge said.

“It will also provide more opportunities for schools to “opt in” to additional assessments in the key subject areas of Science, Civics and Digital Literacy.”

Read More

Read Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge’s statement in full.

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