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NAPLAN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the purpose of NAPLAN testing?

NAPLAN tests assess student knowledge and skills in numeracy, reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar. The results of the tests provide information for students, parents, teachers and principals about student achievement which can be used to inform teaching and learning programs. NAPLAN tests provide point-in-time information regarding student progress across Australia in literacy and numeracy and are intended to complement teacher judgement and the wide range of formal and informal testing programs that are already used in schools. As with all single assessments, NAPLAN test results are not intended to be used in isolation from other school-based assessment programs. In delivering the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) curriculum, schools provide a range of assessment tasks to assess student learning.

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What is the VCAA’s role in NAPLAN testing?

The VCAA is the NAPLAN Test Administration Authority (TAA) for all Victorian school sectors and acts for the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in ensuring the successful delivery of the tests across the state. As Victorian TAA, the VCAA is responsible for ensuring that NAPLAN tests are produced and delivered on schedule annually to all eligible Victorian Year 3/5/7/9 students, and for also ensuring that schools are fully aware of, and deliver the tests in accordance, with the National Protocols for Test Administration.

The VCAA is also responsible for ensuring that test content is consistent with the VELS. The VCAA utilises its own curriculum and assessment expertise as well as experts from DEECD, Catholic and Independent sectors when reviewing proposed test items and Victorian feedback to ACARA is provided through the National Testing Working group (NTWG) comprising senior test managers from all Australian jurisdictions.

The VCAA manages the printing, delivery, return, scanning and marking of the tests in Victoria, and the reporting of NAPLAN results to parents and schools. In addition, the VCAA ensures that Victorian schools are supported and kept up-to-date with NAPLAN related matters through its NAPLAN Help Desk and communications such as School Notices, VCAA Bulletins and direct emails to schools.

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How do schools and teachers prepare students for NAPLAN tests?

The best NAPLAN preparation that schools and teachers can provide students is to ensure that their teaching and learning programs are based on the VELS.

Past NAPLAN test papers are available on the NAP website. These may be used to ensure that students are familiar with the format and response types in the tests.

Schools and teachers ensure that students, while taking the NAPLAN tests seriously, do not feel overwhelmed by the experience.

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What is the relationship between NAPLAN tests and the VELS?

NAPLAN test items are developed with reference to the national Statements of Learning, which were agreed to by Ministers of all Australian states and territories in August 2006. These statements reflect the core elements of the curriculum documents used in the different states and territories and, although the National Assessment Program scale is not explicitly linked to the curriculum continuum of any single jurisdiction, all NAPLAN test items are consistent with the learning progression described in the VELS.

When the final composition of the tests is established, the VCAA matches the test items to a skill descriptor which is then published in the NAPLAN Reporting Guide. This Guide is provided to all schools and is also published on the VCAA website.

Following are two items from past NAPLAN tests with their matching skill descriptors.

Example of Maths Quesion - NAPLAN [D] (txt - 296bytes)

Skill descriptor: Carries out simple money calculations

Example of English Quesion - NAPLAN [D] (txt - 218bytes)

Skill descriptor: Uses a capital letter, commas and speech marks

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How can the NAPLAN Data Service be used to support teaching and learning programs in schools?

The VCAA provides a comprehensive NAPLAN Data Service for all Victorian schools that includes a range of online NAPLAN reports.

Reports within the NAPLAN Data Service provide results data at national, state, school, sub-group and student levels.  These data provide schools with a powerful means of identifying and analysing particular areas of strength and weakness.  Item level data is included, enabling teachers to analyse student response patterns within a class or sub-group.  This information can assist the development of teaching programs and strategies. The Data Service now also provides both school and student level trend data, further assisting schools in measuring growth and improvement.

To assist schools in interpreting their NAPLAN data, the VCAA provides a series of professional development workshops across the state, free-of-charge to all schools. These workshops are usually conducted from October to December, at a range of metropolitan and regional locations.

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How can On Demand tests be used to support teaching and learning programs?

The On Demand system contains Adaptive and Linear Tests in English and Mathematics. Adaptive tests are available as 60 question general tests or as single dimension 30 question tests in Reading, Writing Conventions, Spelling, Number, Space and Measurement, chance and data. Linear Progress Tests are available as single dimension 30 question tests in Reading and Number.

Teachers use adaptive tests to identify the general ability of students in relation to the VELS scale.  Adaptive tests deliver sets of questions to students that vary according to student ability. Depending on the responses given in previous questions, the system presents progressively easier or more difficult questions to the student. These tests can be used for example as pre- and post-testing to measure student improvement following teaching interventions.

Progress Tests target a narrow VELS range, providing a VELS progression point approximation based on the student’s raw score. Progress Test reports help identify areas of student need regarding expected curriculum outcomes for the VELS range. 

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Where can I find further information?

Further information can be found at: 

NAP website.

ACARA website.