Proficiency levels – science literacy

A proficient standard is a point on a proficiency scale that represents a ‘challenging but reasonable’ expectation of student achievement at a particular year level.

The proficient standard for Year 6 students was first established after the NAP-SL main study in 2003 to provide parents, teachers and the community with a clear picture of the proficiency in science literacy that students are expected to demonstrate by the end of Year 6. With the extension of the NAP-SL assessments to Year 10 students in 2018, a standard-setting process was conducted to determine a Year 10 proficient standard. As has been the practice in all NAP sample testing programs, this was achieved through a standard-setting process that brought together expert science educators, including practising primary and secondary teachers, from all states and territories and the non-government sectors, and was reflective of the teaching experience across metropolitan and rural, and high and low socio-education communities.

Five levels of proficiency (levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or above) have been defined for NAP – science literacy, and are described in the table below. The proficient standard in science literacy for Year 6 is the boundary between levels 2 and 3, and for Year 10 the boundary between levels 3 and 4.  Students achieving at these levels are considered to have a sound understanding of Year 6 and Year 10 science.

Proficiency level

Level descriptors

Level 5 or above

Explains interactions that have been observed in terms of an abstract science concept. Summarises conclusions and explains the patterns in the data in the form of a rule and are consistent with the data. When provided with an experimental design involving multiple variables, can identify the questions being investigated.

Level 4

Applies knowledge of relationship between variables to explain a reported phenomenon. Extrapolates from an observed pattern to describe an expected outcome or event. Demonstrates awareness of the principles of conducting an experiment and controlling variables.

Level 3

Interprets information in a contextualised report by application of relevant science knowledge. Interprets data and identifies patterns in – and/or relationships between – elements of the data. Collates and compares data set of collected information. Gives reason for controlling a single variable.

Level 2

Selects appropriate reason to explain reported observation related to personal experience. Interprets simple data set requiring an element of comparison. Makes simple standard measurements and records data as descriptions.

Level 1

Describes a choice for a situation based on a first-hand concrete experience, requiring an application of limited knowledge. Identifies simple patterns in the data and/or interprets a data set containing some interrelated elements. Makes measurements or comparisons involving information or stimulus in a familiar context.

For more information, see How to interpret.