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New proficiency standards for NAPLAN

New proficiency standards for NAPLAN

From this year, parents and carers will get earlier, simpler, and clearer information about their child’s academic achievements based on rigorous new proficiency standards for NAPLAN.

Education ministers have agreed to change the way NAPLAN results are reported to parents and carers, now that all students are taking the tests online, and with the move to an earlier NAPLAN in March.

“These important changes mark a reset for NAPLAN that makes use of the online adaptive tests to deliver better information for parents, carers and teachers,” says ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho

“The standard for proficiency is set at a challenging but reasonable level. If your child is in the Strong or Exceeding category, it means they have demonstrated proficiency and that their literacy or numeracy skills are where they should be at this stage of their schooling,” he explains.

“If your child has not yet achieved proficiency, then they will either be in the Developing category or the Needs additional support category.”

More meaningful reporting to parents and carers

“This is powerful information in the hands of parents, carers, and teachers and will enable much more meaningful conversations between them about how our children and young people are developing the foundational skills they need,” says Mr de Carvalho.

The proficiency standards represent a reasonable expectation of student achievement at the time of testing, with questions in NAPLAN tests based mostly on the literacy and numeracy skills students have learnt from previous years of schooling, according to de Carvalho.

The new standard will support higher expectations for student achievement and ensure students are gaining the important literacy and numeracy skills they will need throughout their lives.

“One of the issues with the previous national minimum standard was that parents and carers could think that if their child was at that level, then ‘everything is OK’. But it wasn’t. If your child is below the proficiency standard, then being informed that their skills are still developing towards proficiency is important. And it’s also important to know if your child needs additional support.”

NAPLAN new proficiency standards
Resetting the measurement scale and restarting the time series once all schools are online was a recommendation of the 2020 Independent Review of NAPLAN.

New achievement levels set using expert panel

For national reporting, 2023 will mark the start of a new time series, now that all students are online, and the tests are being held in March instead of May. The earlier timing of NAPLAN in March rather than May means students will have two months less learning time before NAPLAN testing than in previous years.

This, in addition to the full transition of all schools nationally to the online assessment that delivers more precise information, makes this the right time to reset the NAPLAN measurement scale so that results no longer have to be equated to those from the paper era, according to Mr de Carvalho.

This will mean beginning a new results time series from 2023. Results from 2023 on will not be directly compared with results from 2008 to 2022. However, a continued focus on students at the lower end of the achievement scale will be maintained by taking historical results into account for baseline benchmarks in the new reporting.

Resetting the measurement scale and restarting the time series once all schools are online was a recommendation of the 2020 Independent Review of NAPLAN.

NAPLAN continues to measure student achievement in numeracy, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The new proficiency standard will be included on all NAPLAN reporting including the National Report, the My School website, the reports received by schools and the Individual Student Reports (ISRs) received by parents and carers.

NAPLAN individual student report

The numerical NAPLAN bands and the national minimum standard will be replaced by the following four levels of achievement:

• Exceeding
• Strong
• Developing
• Needs additional support.

The descriptors for each category will make it clear to parents what their child’s literacy and numeracy skills are at the time of NAPLAN testing, and support discussions with their school on their child’s progress.

Student reports will continue to show the national average and the range of achievement for the middle 60 per cent of students in their year level, allowing comparison of a child’s achievement against these measures. Detailed information on the knowledge and skills being measured in each NAPLAN assessment will be made available on the NAP website.


From 2023, NAPLAN tests will be held in Term 1, allowing results to be returned to systems, schools and parents/carers earlier in the year.

For more information, visit the NAP website.

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