The first National Assessment Program - science literacy (NAP-SL) of Year 6 students occurred in 2003 with successive assessments conducted in 2006, 2009 and 2012. This is the only sample assessment that focuses entirely on Year 6 students. This is because the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA, now known as the Education Council) agreed to use the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) as the national measure of performance for science literacy among secondary students.
In 2015, the fifth assessment cycle of science literacy has transitioned from a paper-based test to an online test. It is the third of the NAP sample assessments to be delivered online following the National Assessment Program – civics and citizenship in 2013 and the National Assessment Program – ICT literacy in 2014.
To prepare for the online assessment in 2015, questions were developed and subjected to a rigorous trialling process to ensure suitability for the assessment. A field trial was conducted in mid-March 2015 in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria involving around 50 schools. Approximately 14,000 students will participate in the sample assessment in October and November 2015.
Another important change for the NAP – SL 2015 assessment is the development of an assessment framework which will act as a bridge between past and future NAP – SL cycles. It incorporates the existing assessment domain and progress map so that the underlying construct of the NAP-SL assessment is maintained while providing an overview of the connections to the Australian Curriculum and the online assessment context. This work will contribute to the development of an assessment framework for future NAP – SL assessments post-2015 which will be based primarily on the Australian Curriculum: Science.