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What is the NAPLAN?

Instructor: Bill Sands
The NAPLAN is a series of standardized tests for Australian students. Keep reading to learn what this test is used for, when students have to take it and where to find useful test-prep resources.

An Overview of the NAPLAN

NAPLAN is an acronym for National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy. These standardized tests are designed to assess the fundamental academic skills of Australian students at four key stages in their academic career. Students first take the exam during Year 3, and then sit for the exam every two years until the final sitting in Year 9. The tests are administered over the course of a week-long testing window in May.

NAPLAN Purpose

The NAPLAN is the primary tool used by teachers, schools, governments, and parents to measure a student's literacy and numeracy skills against national learning standards. These particular skill sets have been deemed especially important for the cultivation of other skills, as well as a student's long-term academic and professional success.

The NAPLAN exams are used to supplement evaluations conducted by students' teachers and serve as progress reports that confirm whether or not students are on track academically.

Furthermore, the tests provide feedback on the various successes and failures of education programs. Strong overall scores indicate that a particular program is working, while poor performance may indicate the need for a change in the curriculum or a more drastic overhaul.

Exam Content

The NAPLAN consists of four domains that are named as follows:

  • Reading: Assesses students' vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.
  • Writing: Measures students' ability to write imaginative, informative and persuasive texts.
  • Language Conventions: Gauges students' mastery of proper grammar, punctuation and spelling.
  • Numeracy: Evaluates students' ability to solve problems involving arithmetic, algebra, geometry, functions and patterns, measurement and statistics.

Question formats for most domains fall into two categories: multiple choice and short written response. The writing test requires students to develop a response to a prompt.

Test Development

The NAPLAN is a constantly evolving assessment authored by multiple scholars and administrators. This 'design by committee' approach involves a coordinated effort across the country and ensures that the content of the tests accurately reflect the national curriculum.

New test content is administered to students in a trial period, and is then sent to a panel of experts (such as experienced teachers) who conduct a thorough review. Content is only added to an exam when it has been vetted and approved by this panel.

NAPLAN Preparation

The NAPLAN tests a student's skills, and as such preparation can be difficult because there is no specific subject area to review. However, there are resources parents and teachers can use to strengthen skills that will be essential when students sit for the NAPLAN and help familiarize them with test content and format.

Sample tests and answer keys for each grade level and subject area are available for download on the National Assessment Program website.

Teachers and parents can also take advantage of the following online courses. Each one includes self-paced video lessons as well as quizzes and practice tests that can be used to supplement class assignments, assess student understanding of a given topic or shore up any areas that require additional instruction:

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