NAPLAN – writing test

  1. What do students do in the NAPLAN writing test?
  2. What is a genre or text type?
  3. Are all students expected to do the same writing task?
  4. Will the Year 3 and 5 prompt assess the same genre as the Year 7 and 9 prompt?
  5. What is the genre for the 2015 NAPLAN writing tests?
  6. How will the change to two prompts affect test preparation?
  7. Will the writing results for Years 3 and 5 still be able to be compared to those for Years 7 and 9?
  8. What is persuasive writing?
  9. What is narrative writing?
  10. What will the prompt look like?
  11. How is the persuasive text marked? Is it marked differently to a narrative text?
  12. Why are there two different scales for narrative and persuasive writing tests?

 

What do students do in the NAPLAN writing test?

Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are provided with a prompt – an idea or topic – and asked to write a response of a particular text type (genre).

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What is a genre or text type?

Students are taught to write a variety of different text types. There are three main groups of text types, sometimes called genres. These are imaginative, information and argument (also known as persuasive).

Imaginative texts are texts that involve the use of language to represent, recreate, shape and explore human experiences in real and imagined worlds. They are also referred to as sub-genres and include, for example, fairy tales, anecdotes, novels, plays, poetry, personal letters and illustrated books.

Information texts are texts that involve the use of language to represent ideas and information related to people, places, events, things, concepts and issues. They include, for example, recounts, reports, descriptions, biographies, explanations, transactional texts, news articles and features.

Argument texts are texts that systematically present a point of view or seek to persuade an audience. They include, for example, arguments, expositions, discussions, and letters to the editor, debates, reviews and advertisements.

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Are all students expected to do the same writing task?

No. Unlike previous years, there will be one writing task for Year 3 and 5 students, and another task for Year 7 and 9 students.

Even though two tasks will be used, all students’ responses will be marked with the same marking guide. This is possible because the marking guides used to assess NAPLAN writing are not task specific and have been developed to assess writing produced by students from Years 3 to Year 9.

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Will the Year 3 and 5 prompt assess the same genre as the Year 7 and 9 prompt?

Yes. For the 2015 test, the genre of the writing task will be the same for both prompts.

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What is the genre for the 2015 NAPLAN writing tests?

As in 2014, the genre for the 2015 writing test will not be disclosed prior to the test period.

There is an equal possibility that the writing test will require students to write a response in the narrative or persuasive genre. There will not be a choice of genre.

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How will the change to two prompts affect test preparation?

The change to two prompts should have no effect on how teachers prepare their students for the writing test.

Students will still be required to write the same sorts of responses as in previous years. The change to two prompts will just ensure the topics and the wording used are more accessible to all students.

The best preparation for all NAPLAN tests is for teachers to teach what is required in the curriculum. In relation to writing, the curriculum requires students to learn about imaginative, informative and persuasive texts. Through these types of texts students learn to write to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue.

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Will the writing results for Years 3 and 5 still be able to be compared to those for Years 7 and 9?

Yes. The purpose of the writing prompt is to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their best writing in the genre being tested.

The marking guides are developed to assess writing regardless of the topic. The two writing tasks will still be marked using a common marking guide and results will still be reported on the same scale. This means the results will be able to be compared across the year levels as well as across other test cycles where the same writing scale has been used.

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What is persuasive writing?

A persuasive text is any text where the main purpose is to present a point of view and seeks to persuade a reader.  Persuasive text types include, for example, arguments, expositions, discussions, and letters to the editor, debates, reviews and advertisements.

A NAPLAN persuasive writing test requires students to write a continuous text. A continuous persuasive text has the structural components of an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Each structural component serves a function.

The purpose of the introduction is to introduce the reader to the main idea of the text. It should provide some context associated with the topic and present the writer's opinion on the topic. It should capture the interest of the reader and say why the topic is important. The style of the introduction may change according to the style of the writing and the opinion being presented and might include, for example, a definition of the topic, generalisations about the topic, a list of the main points of argument or a short anecdote.

The body of the persuasive text should develop the intentions stated in the introduction and may make use of the structures typical of non-fictional essays. For example, listing and describing parts, comparing and contrasting, and showing cause and effect are some ways students can present their opinions.

The conclusion should bring closure to the text and the writer's point of view in a way that reinforces the writer's position on the topic. A conclusion should do more than simply repeat what has already been said. Conclusions may summarise the writer's position, reflect on the topic and draw conclusions by synthesising ideas presented in the body. The conclusion should not present new information.

Please note: Anecdote can be a very powerful way of presenting an opinion, and may be used to develop an argument. However, for the purpose of the persuasive writing test, it is not appropriate to write a story or narrative in response to the test topic.

For further information about text structure, please refer to pages 84-85 in the Persuasive writing marking guide.

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What is narrative writing?

Narrative writing tells a story. Narrative text types include, for example, short stories, fairy-tales, fables and myths. They can take a variety of styles including adventure stories or mysteries. Stories can be realistic or imaginative. Many story writers base their stories on real life events. The main purpose of a narrative is to entertain a reader, but stories can also contain a universal theme or moral, or teach the reader a lesson.

A NAPLAN narrative writing test requires students to write a complete story that has an orientation, a complication and a resolution. These are sometimes called the beginning, middle and ending. Each of these structural components serve a function.

An orientation (or beginning) sets the scene and introduces the characters in the story. It lets the reader know what the story is going to be about.

The building up of a complication (or middle) is usually the largest part of the story. It is made up of a series of events that presents a problem or conflict that needs to be solved. The problem, often in the form of an obstacle that needs to be overcome, introduces tension or excitement into the story. The problem or complication needs a response from the main character in the story that leads to the resolution.

The resolution (or ending) brings the story to an end. It lets the reader know how the problem was solved or sometimes, in more sophisticated stories, how it couldn’t be solved and how the main characters deal with this.

Unlike other text types that have a definite order to their structure, the structure of a narrative can be very flexible. For example, a beginning writer is likely to use the beginning, middle and ending structure, in that order. However, some very experienced story writers may choose to begin with the resolution or ending and then tell the reader how this ending was arrived at by building the complication, and in the process of doing so will reveal the scene, characters and purpose of the story - the orientation.

For further information about how narrative writing is assessed in NAPLAN, please refer to the Narrative writing marking guide.

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What will the prompt look like?

The test prompt will provide students with a topic about which they must write. It may provide some images to assist students to develop ideas. Alternatively the prompt may provide only textual support. During the administration of the test, all students have the prompt read to them by the teacher, and can have any part of it re-read on request.

To give you an idea of the formats that prompts may take, you can download the following example test prompts: 

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How is the persuasive text marked? Is it marked differently to a narrative text?

Persuasive writing is marked in a way that closely parallels the marking of narrative writing. Assessment rubrics for both narrative and persuasive writing include common criteria. Nine of the 10 criteria assessed in both the persuasive and narrative marking guides are common. However, each rubric presents those criteria differently, according to how that feature is used in the text type being assessed.

Persuasive writing and narrative writing also have one criterion that is unique to each form. Persuasive writing assesses persuasive devices whilst narrative writing assesses the development of character and setting. The key focus skills for both rubrics are available for comparison  in the Writing section.

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Why are there two different scales for narrative and persuasive writing tests?

There is a separate scale for the narrative writing test (2008 - 2010) and the persuasive writing test (from 2011 - 2013). The results for narrative writing tests should not be compared with the results for persuasive writing tests. This is because the equating process used to compare results from test to test has indicated that students perform differently on the two different types of writing.

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