This glossary provides an explanation of some of the terms used on this website.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A ABS remoteness The ABS Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure is based on the locality of individual schools and is used to disaggregate data according to Major Cities of Australia, Inner Regional Australia, Outer Regional Australia, Remote Australia and Very Remote Australia.
Empty Title Absent Absent students are students who did not sit the test because they were not present when the test was administered or were unable to sit the test as a result of an accident or mishap.
Empty Title Alternative format tests Tests provided in a format outside the Assessment Platform, either as a paper test (e.g. Year 3 writing tests) or as a disability adjustment (e.g. braille tests). All alternative format tests, apart from Year 3 writing tests, require approval from the relevant TAA.
Empty Title Alternative format (paper) tests Alternative format (paper) tests are provided for the Year 3 writing test, and for all domains for schools with a TAA-approved alternative curriculum, where technology is not introduced until Year 5 or above.
Empty Title Alternative format (disability adjustment) tests Alternative format (disability adjustment) tests refer to hard copy braille, large print, black-and-white tests and electronic PDF tests.
Empty Title Assessed Students who were present for the writing test or who responded to at least one item in the non-writing tests.
Empty Title Assessment framework A clear definition of the scope and method of testing for each NAP assessment.
Empty Title Average age The average age of students is calculated from the dates of birth provided by each state/territory.
Empty Title Average NAPLAN score NAPLAN results are reported both as achievement scores and proficiency levels. The average refers to the average NAPLAN score for a group of students.
B  Band Between 2008 and 2022 the NAPLAN measurement scale for each assessment area was divided into 10 bands used to report student progress through Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Band 1 was the lowest band and band 10 the highest. Each band contained a range of scores and was not a specific point. From 2023 student achievement is reported using proficiency levels.
Empty Title Base year First year of data collection for the purposes of time series comparisons. For NAPLAN, a new time series started in 2023. Prior to this, the writing base year was 2011 and for all other NAPLAN domains was 2008.
 C Cohort A group of students.
Empty Title Cohort gain Cohort gain refers to the difference in an aggregated group of students’ achievement levels between 2 testing years. Please note, same students are not identified when measuring cohort gain. At a school level the term student progress is used, which is different. See also ‘Student progress’. 
Empty Title Common scale When 2 or more tests are equated, the difficulties of test items and student performances can be measured on the same (common) scale. This enables direct comparison of test performances between year groups and calendar years.
Empty Title Confidence intervals An indication of the statistical uncertainty to expect when estimating population parameters using statistics from a sample (e.g. a sample mean score).
Empty Title Correlation coefficient An indicator of the extent to which 2 variables (e.g. reading and numeracy scale scores) vary together. A positive correlation coefficient suggests that as the scores for one variable increase, so do the scores of the other variable; and a negative correlation coefficient suggests that as one set of scores increases, the other decreases.
Empty Title Criterion variable A variable that is predicted from a combination of other variables after a statistical analysis has taken place. It is sometimes referred to as a dependent variable.
 D Disability adjustments Adjustments intended to allow students with disability to participate in and access the tests on an equivalent basis to students without disability, while upholding the integrity of the testing process.
Empty Title Domain A domain is the term used to describe a subject or learning area that is the focus of a test. The 5 learning areas tested in NAPLAN are reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy. These are called test domains. There are 3 domains for sample assessments: civics and citizenship, information and communications technology literacy, and science literacy.
 E Effect size
Effect size is a measure for quantifying the difference in achievement between 2 groups or the same group over time. Effect size measures complement statistical tests (which examine whether the difference is likely to be caused by chance) and focus on the magnitude of the difference.
Empty Title Equating
The process by which 2 or more tests are placed on the same measurement scale. This is so student performances and item (question) difficulties can be compared directly.
Empty Title Exempt Students with a language background other than English, who arrived from overseas less than a year before the tests, and students with significant disabilities may be exempted from testing.
 G Gender In 2022, data collection for gender was broadened in line with the ABS to collect responses other than male/female. ACARA’s reporting is currently limited to male/female as the number of students using the additional responses is extremely small.
 I Indigeneity An Indigenous student is one who identifies as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The term ‘origin’ is considered to relate to people’s Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent and for some, but not all, their cultural identity.
Empty Title Item A test item is a test question.
 J Jurisdiction(s) One or more of the 8 states and territories of Australia.
 L Language background other than English (LBOTE) A student is classified as LBOTE if either the student or parents/carers speak a language other than English at home.
Empty Title Likert-type items Items to which respondents are required to select one of several categories (e.g. ‘strongly disagree’, ‘disagree’, ‘agree’, ‘strongly agree’) to indicate their intensity of response to the item.
Empty Title Link items or common items Questions that appear in more than one test. Having link items is one method of equating tests. Link items can be ‘vertical’ (e.g. having common items in NAPLAN 2021 reading Year 3 and NAPLAN 2021 reading Year 5 tests), or ‘horizontal’ (e.g. having common items in tests administered in different calendar years).
 M Marking rubric The marking rubric is the set of criteria against which the writing test is assessed.
Empty Title Mean The average result in an analysed data set.
 N  NAPLAN NAPLAN stands for the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy. NAPLAN is a series of common literacy and numeracy tests conducted annually across Australia for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
Empty Title NAP sample assessments The NAP sample assessments test students’ skills and understanding in science literacy, civics and citizenship and information and communication technology (ICT) literacy. Only selected samples of students in Years 6 and 10 participate in these sample assessments, which are held on a rolling three-yearly basis.
Empty Title National minimum standard National minimum standards were used in NAPLAN between 2008 and 2022 to represent minimum performance standards in literacy and numeracy for a given year level, below which students would have difficulty progressing satisfactorily at school. From 2023, national minimum standards have been replaced with proficiency levels.
Empty Title Nature of the difference

The nature of the difference is an effect size measure. It helps interpreting the results by comparing the magnitude of a significant difference with an effect size criterion, resulting in a label for the size of the difference.

The nature of the difference is reported as follows for comparisons with the previous year or the base year:

  • substantially above/below refers to a difference that is statistically significant and substantial in size
  • above/below refers to a difference that is statistically significant and small in size
  • close to refers to differences that are not statistically significant differences or negligible in size.
Empty Title Non-attempt A non-attempt is a student who was present but either refused to sit the test or (for non-writing domains) sat the test but did not provide sufficient information to estimate an achievement score.
 P Parental education Parental education represents the highest level of parental school or non-school education that a parent/carer has completed. This includes the highest level of primary or secondary school completed or the highest post-school qualification attained. The higher level of school or non-school education that either parent/carer has completed is reported. Certificate I to IV includes Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) trade certificates.
Empty Title Parental occupation

Parental occupation represents the occupation group that includes the main work undertaken by the parent/carer. If a parent/carer has more than one job, the occupation group that reflects their main job is reported. The higher occupational group of either parent/carer is reported.

Occupation groups are:

  • Group 1: Elected officials, senior executives/manager, management in large business organisation, government administration and defence, and qualified professionals
  • Group 2: Other business managers/professionals and associate professionals
  • Group 3: Tradespeople and advanced/intermediate clerical, office, sales, carer and service staff
  • Group 4: Machine operators, sales/office/service/hospitality staff, assistants, labourers and related workers.
Empty Title Participant Participating students include assessed students, non-attempts and exempt students.
Empty Title Participation rate Participation rate is calculated as participants as a percentage of the total number of enrolled students in the year level, as reported by the schools.
Empty Title Proficiency levels (NAPLAN) In NAPLAN, student results are classified into one of 4 proficiency levels at each domain and year level.
Empty Title Proficient standard (NAP sample assessments) In NAP sample assessments, a proficient standard is the standard in each of the assessments that represents a reasonably challenging level of performance where students need to show more than the minimal skills expected at that year level.
Empty Title Psychometrician

A psychometrician is a person practising any or all aspects of psychometrics. Psychometrics is an area of statistics concerned with educational and psychological measurement. This includes the construction of tests, construction of measurement scales and the development and refinement of theoretical approaches to measurement.

 R  Rasch model A mathematical model developed to analyse data and responses from assessments such as the NAP tests. It enables student abilities and item (question) difficulties to be placed on the same scale. It is particularly efficient for equating tests.
Empty Title Raw score The raw score on a given test is the number of marks obtained on that test.
Empty Title Refusal Students who were present but did not log in and were deemed by the test administrator as refusing to take the test.
Empty Title Remoteness  See ‘ABS remoteness’.
 S Sample testing Testing a portion of the population rather than testing the entire population. It is a relatively efficient method of obtaining general information about the performance of a population without having to test all members of the population.
Empty Title Scale The NAPLAN measurement scales and NAP sample assessment proficiency scales provide a numerical summary of the skills and performance of student achievement in each of the NAP tests in each year level. The scales provide significant information about the performance of students.
Empty Title Standard deviation A statistical measure defined as the average amount by which scores in a test differ from the overall average score, that is, how ‘spread out’ the results are from the average result. The larger the standard deviation, the more spread out the values are.
Empty Title Statistically significant A difference in results is statistically significant if the probability is very small (smaller than 0.05) that this difference was caused by chance.
Empty Title Student progress  The difference in the same students’ achievement levels between 2 testing years in the same test domain within a school. The same students are identified to ensure they were at the same school 2 years prior and are excluded if not. Displayed on My School as Student progress graphs. At an aggregate level the term cohort gain is used, which is a different construct. See also ‘Cohort gain’. 
 T Test administration authority

An education department or NAPLAN test authority in each state or territory, which has a responsibility for administration of the tests in their jurisdiction.

 W Withdrawn Students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. Withdrawals are intended to address issues such as religious beliefs and philosophical objections to testing.
 Y Years of schooling States and territories have different school starting ages. Years of schooling is an estimate of the average time students have spent in schooling at the time of testing, expressed in years and months.