ACARA has released NAPLAN 2019 summary results, which reveals some positive signs at the primary school level, however also indicates several areas for improvement, particularly at the secondary level.
The data shows some improvements in student writing, particularly in Year 3, when compared to last year, however for other test domains, results were similar to 2018.
The summary information, released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on 28 August provides preliminary results at the national, and state and territory level for each school year assessed and for all domains in NAPLAN.
This data provides comparisons of the 2019 results with 2018 and with base years (2008 for numeracy, reading and conventions of language; and 2011 for writing).
The performance of Australian students in Year 5 numeracy, Years 3 and 5 reading, Years 3 and 5 spelling, and Year 3 grammar were above the NAPLAN 2008 average. In Years 7 and 9, results in writing were found to be below the 2011 average. Year 7 writing showed some improvement from 2018; while in Year 9, students in South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory also showed slight improvements from the previous year.
ACARA CEO David de Carvalho, said that the overall preliminary results were a good sign. “NAPLAN results for 2019 in writing have shown a pleasing improvement from last year, and it is a trend we would like to see continue, given the decline in recent years across all year levels. Schools have been making focused efforts for some time to address concerns about their students’ writing. Students are to be congratulated for this year’s improvement, especially Year 3 students, where the results are particularly encouraging.”
Since NAPLAN began in 2008, Mr de Carvalho said there had been gains in most test areas, particularly in the primary years.
In 2019, 50 per cent of schools completed NAPLAN testing online, with all schools due to make the online transition in 2020. However, the Education Council, comprising all of Australia’s education ministers, agreed to postpone the national rollout of NAPLAN Online until 2021, following connectivity issues that affected numerous schools, with some students having to resit the test.
Though NAPLAN Online has come under a great deal of scrutiny due to these connectivity problems and questions around the comparability of online data versus pen and paper, ACARA affirms that student results continue to be measured against the one NAPLAN assessment scale, meaning results of both formats are comparable.
According to ACARA, regardless of whether students complete the test online or on paper, they are assessed on the same underlying literacy and numeracy skills taught through the curriculum content.
“Prior to release, NAPLAN results are reviewed and endorsed by independent measurement advisory experts. These measurement experts have confirmed that the results for online and paper NAPLAN have assessed the same content and can be placed on the same NAPLAN assessment scale this year,” said Mr de Carvalho.
“This includes the results for some students whose tests were disrupted due to connectivity issues and who were offered the opportunity to resit the tests, either online or on paper. Considering those connectivity issues, ministers have agreed that the NAPLAN Summary information will include wording that acknowledges the disruptions, as well as an emphasis that, as always, results should be interpreted with care.”
Mr de Carvalho added that while this is only the second year of the transition into NAPLAN Online, ACARA had learnt lessons from last year’s disruptions and has implemented a range of improved processes going forward.