The development of NAPLAN and NAP Sample Assessment tests is managed by ACARA in consultation and collaboration with experts in the areas of literacy, numeracy, ICT, science, and civics and citizenship. Assessment experts, including teachers, education authorities in all the states and territories, the Australian Government, and the non-government school sectors are also involved in this process.
The development of NAPLAN tests is guided by the national Statements of Learning in English and mathematics.
The development of NAP Sample tests is guided by the national Statements of Learning in science, ICT and civics and citizenship.
The tests are constructed to:
- assess knowledge, skills and understandings appropriate to students in particular year levels;
- to be interesting and engaging to students throughout Australia; and
- to challenge students at all levels of ability.
Once the Australian Curriculum is implemented in all states and territories, the test requirements for NAPLAN and NAP Sample Assessments will be adjusted as necessary to reflect and measure essential elements of the new curriculum.
Development and review process
The development and review process for tests in the National Assessment Program takes about 18 months to complete. This process involves a specific set of steps designed to ensure that the tests are of the highest standard:
Guidelines for test development
Guidelines for test development, including question (item) formats and suitable topics for Reading materials, are reviewed early as part of an ongoing quality assurance process. This ensures that there are clear guidelines for writers to follow when they develop test questions.
Question (‘item’) development
Test developers are engaged to develop questions that meet the endorsed test specifications. ACARA contracts out this part of the process to organisations that successfully demonstrate exceptional experience and competence in the area of test development.
Review of test items
Test managers from each state and territory, as well as representatives from the non-government sector, review proposed test items to ensure they meet curriculum and jurisdiction or sector based circumstances.
Representative samples of students from each state and territory participate in the trialling of potential test questions. The data from these trials are analysed and then questions that meet the test specifications are selected to construct each test.
ACARA’s Expert Advisory Panel, made up of five measurement and assessment experts, also reviews the tests and trial data and provides advice before they are finalised.
A process of equating is carried out to enable the results from NAPLAN tests in different years to be reported on the same assessment scale (also see Test results). A second national sample of students participates in this additional ‘equating’ testing program, which is usually carried out before the main tests so the results can be linked.
NAPLAN tests are held over three days in May every year. Unlike NAPLAN, NAP Sample tests are not held on the same fixed dates in all schools, and generally occur in October/November of each year.
Once the tests are marked, the results are analysed in a number of ways by experts in the area of educational measurement.
Results from the National Assessment Program tests are reported in a number of ways:
- individual students receive a report on how they performed (NAPLAN only)
- schools receive information on how students at their school performed
- summary and national reports showing performance across the nation are published
- average school results are shown on the My School website (NAPLAN only).
For more information on how test results are reported, see Test results.