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The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests were first implemented in May 2008 when national tests were held in literacy and numeracy for all students in Australia in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. These tests replaced the previous State and Territory-based assessments and have the support of all Education Ministers.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has been appointed to manage the tests. It is responsible for monitoring and reporting progress of the project and for the development of:

  • individual items and tests
  • agreed marking standards
  • quality control standards and risk management.

Although ACARA manages the national tests, the QCAA as the Test Administration Authority (TAA) for Queensland coordinates the administration, marking and reporting of the assessments for this state.

Purpose of the tests

The NAPLAN tests are designed to assess the skills of Australian students in literacy and numeracy. The specific purposes are:

  • to collect data from the population of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students for reporting to parents/carers and schools for systematic reporting
  • to accommodate the assessment of students against national minimum standards.

What is tested?

A series of tests will assess areas of literacy and numeracy.

The following areas of literacy are assessed:

  • Language conventions - spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Writing - knowledge and control of written language
  • Reading - comprehension.

As in other years, students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will be required to respond to a stimulus in the NAPLAN Writing test.

In numeracy, the content areas assessed are:

  • Number and algebra
  • Measurement and geometry
  • Statistics and probability

Results from the tests will provide important information about children's progress in literacy and numeracy. Following the tests, schools and students will receive a statement of performance in relation to the national minimum standards.

Format of the tests

The program is conducted over 3 days in early May. Usually students sit the tests in their own schools.

For Years 3 and 5 there will be 4 tests: Language conventions, Writing, Reading and Numeracy.

For Years 7 and 9 there will be 4 tests: Language conventions, Writing, Reading, Numeracy (calculator and non-calculator test items).

For the Writing test, students will be given a stimulus and asked to write a response to the task in a maximum of three pages. There will be one Writing stimulus for students in Years 3 and 5; and a second different Writing stimulus for students in Years 7 and 9. However, both will be of the same genre.

The response formats for questions on all other test papers will be either multiple choice (shade a bubble to indicate the answer) or constructed response (write the answer in a box or on a line). Online test items may also include other response types such as hotspot and drag and drop items.

Eligibility to sit the tests

All eligible students in Years 3, 5, 7 or Year 9 enrolled at State, Catholic or Independent schools must sit the tests unless they are exempt or withdrawn by parents/carers.

A Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 or Year 9 student is one who is:

  • enrolled in Years 3, 5, 7 or 9 and recorded as such in the admission register, or
  • recorded as ungraded but undertaking a Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 or Year 9 program, or
  • of equivalent chronological age to a "typical" Year 3, 5, 7 or 9 student and involved in a special education facility or program.

Preparation for the tests

Information about the NAPLAN tests is available from the NAPLAN website. Sets of test preparation questions for literacy and numeracy are available on this website for each year level.

More information

Information about the tests for parents and schools is available on the NAPLAN website.

See the test preparation, test administration and test reporting and analysis sections for test handbooks and for historical data on the performance of Queensland students in the NAPLAN tests.

Email or contact the QCAA office.

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Last updated: 21 November 2017

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