NAPLAN – the national point-in-time assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will move to Term One from 2023 to put “information in teachers’ hands sooner”.

It was one of several structural changes to the testing program announced by the country’s Education Ministers on March 16.

Other changes include:

  • the current NAP Sample assessments for Years 6 and 10 (held every 3 years for a selected group of students only in Science, Civics and Citizenship, and Digital Literacy) will also move from October to Term Two from 2023.
  • Schools will soon be able to “opt-in” to these NAP Sample assessments annually if they wish. These optional tests will be phased in over three years: Science will begin in 2024, Civics and Citizenship added in 2025 and Digital Literacy will follow in 2026.
  • Results from these additional opt-in, annual assessments will be given to schools, but not reported publicly.

“The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), state and territory education departments, and non-government school authorities will work with schools to ensure they are well prepared for the change,” the communique from the Education Ministers said.

NAPLAN 2023 will be held from Wednesday 15 March to Monday 27 March.

The history of NAPLAN

The NAPLAN (or National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) test has occurred in Australian schools since 2008 and has traditionally been held in May each year. (In 2022, NAPLAN is scheduled for 10 – 20 May.)

NAPLAN assesses literacy and numeracy skills 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.

Why is the main NAPLAN testing program moving to Term One?

Education Ministers said NAPLAN would be conducted in mid-March from 2023 (instead of May) to give teachers “the additional information they need about student performance earlier in the year”.

“Bringing the test forward puts information in teachers’ hands sooner, allowing for more targeted support for students to ensure they are gaining important literacy and numeracy skills,” they said.

ACARA – the statutory authority that oversees NAPLAN – said the “improvements” agreed to by education ministers “will enhance NAPLAN”.

“(Moving NAPLAN to Term One) will mean results will be available to education authorities earlier in the year to inform school and system teaching and learning programs and will allow teachers to better assess what support students need for the coming year,” it said in a statement.

Extra information for parents

Read more about the purpose of NAPLAN, how it’s assessed and how to support your child in the official brochure NAPLAN – Information for Parents and Carers.

You can also find translations of the document in 12 languages here.

To see the types of questions and functionalities in the online tests, visit the public demonstration site page.