NAPLAN assessments

The national assessment program literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment held in March for students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

NAPLAN is developed and reported on by the Australian Curriculum Assessment Authority (ACARA) and administered in NSW by NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) as the Test Administration Authority (TAA) in NSW.

NAPLAN tests fundamental literacy and numeracy skills that every child needs to become successful learners in school and beyond. NAPLAN is a national, consistent measure to determine whether or not students are meeting important educational outcomes.

NAPLAN is made up of tests in the 4 areas (or ‘domains’) of:

  • reading
  • writing
  • conventions of language (spelling, grammar and punctuation)
  • numeracy.

Tailored Testing

NAPLAN is administered online, using the tailored testing design. The tests automatically adapt to student test performance and achievement levels, resulting in better assessment and more precise results.

For further information about NAPLAN online benefits, visit the ACARA website.

Disability adjustments

Students with additional learning and support needs, including disability, have individual needs, experiences, and functional abilities. Adjustments are available to ensure all students can participate in testing experiences on the same basis and are decided in consultation with parents and carers.

Adjustments provided include, but are not limited to, alternate format tests and assistive technology. Some adjustments require approval from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). Visit the NESA webpage for more information on adjustments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Refer to ACARA’s frequently asked questions for more information about NAPLAN.

Why are NAPLAN assessments now online?

NAPLAN provides a faster turnaround of results to teachers and carers, meaning that student learning needs can be identified sooner.

NAPLAN enables the use of tailored testing, where the test adapts to a student’s ability. This broadens the scope of assessments and has proven to be more engaging for students.

Overall, NAPLAN provides a more precise and beneficial assessment that has potential to adapt as technology develops.

Is NAPLAN compulsory?

All eligible students in Years 3, 5, 7 or 9 enrolled at that school must participate, unless they are exempt or withdrawn from NAPLAN testing by parents or carers.

Will the Year 3 writing test be online?

No. Education ministers have requested more research about the benefits or disadvantages for Year 3 students composing text in an online environment before any decision is made for the future.

At this stage, the Year 3 writing test will continue to be paper-based. All other Year 3 NAPLAN tests (numeracy, reading and language conventions) will be online.

What if parents or carers have requested that they do not want their child using a computer?

As with paper-based testing, parents or carers can choose to withdraw a student if there are religious beliefs or philosophical objections to testing. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents or carers in consultation with their child’s school. An application for exemption may be required by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

Can students with disability participate in NAPLAN online?

Every student with a disability has individual needs, experiences and functional abilities so there is no typical or uniform testing experience for students with a disability.

Adjustments are provided for students with disability, including assistive technology, with approval from NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). Visit the NESA web page for more information on adjustments.

NAPLAN online has alternate items for students with visual, auditory and/or motor disabilities who may not be able to access specific item types.

How does an online format benefit student engagement?

A tailored test design means that students are less likely to become disengaged if the questions are too easy or frustrated if they are too difficult. The online format allows domains such as spelling to be tested using audio delivery, which closely replicates the way it is taught and assessed in day to day practice.

Research has shown that students find online assessment more engaging. You can read more about this research on the ACARA website.

What if students are not familiar with technology?

NAPLAN is not a test of computer skills, however students should be familiar with the device they will be using to complete the test. Basic ICT skills are a requirement of the Australian curriculum and should be a part of each school's everyday learning.

Is automated marking used in NAPLAN?

Automated marking was used in the paper NAPLAN test to mark numeracy, reading and conventions of language and remains in use for these purposes in NAPLAN.

The automated essay scoring system is not used to mark NAPLAN writing tests. Instead, trained markers are employed to mark student writing.

What is tailored testing?

NAPLAN uses tailored testing, where the test automatically adapts to a student's performance and asks questions that match their achievement level. This allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and provides teachers and schools with more targeted and detailed information on students’ performance.

Will students’ personal information be safe?

Yes. Security and privacy are key requirements for the delivery of national testing. The online assessment platform is designed to comply with relevant national data security policies and guidelines as well as data encryption standards. It meets the requirements of the Australian Government’s Protective security policy framework and Information security manual to protect privacy of data.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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