Interview for Student Reasoning

What is the Interview for Student Reasoning?

The Interview for Student Reasoning (IfSR) is a suite of teacher-led optional online numeracy assessments for K-10 students.

IfSR can supplement existing school practices to identify how students construct their mathematical understandings and to help teachers tailor their teaching more specifically to student needs.

Assessment items reflect the current research and evidence base. Items link to resources to support students’ progress in developing fundamental numeracy skills. The assessments are mapped to the NSW syllabus and National Numeracy Learning Progression.

The assessments have been modularised to give teachers flexibility in assessing sub-skills for targeted teaching.

About the assessment

The assessment enables teachers to hear and see how students are progressing in:

  • Number and place value
  • Additive thinking
  • Multiplicative thinking
  • Proportional thinking

This allows teachers to establish where students are in their learning so that teaching can be differentiated and learning progress can be monitored over time. The suite focuses on Kindergarten to Year 8, however, it can be used with students up to Year 10.

This short video 'About the IfSR assessment suite' helps teachers familiarise themselves with the suite.

About the Interview for Student Reasoning suite

The Interview for Student Reasoning, IfSR, is an online, on-demand diagnostic numeracy assessment that is aligned to the New South Wales Mathematics K-10 syllabus and the National Numeracy Learning Progression. Assessment feedback can be accessed in PLAN2.

The IfSR is a 1 to 1 interview. This supports teachers to develop a deeper understanding of the way a student reasons and uses their mathematical knowledge. It provides primary and secondary teachers with additional diagnostic information about a student's learning strengths and the conceptual knowledge a student needs.

Teachers can use the assessment at any time throughout the teaching and learning cycle to support decision making about next steps in numeracy learning for individual students.

The IfSR can be accessed via ALAN Assessing Literacy and Numeracy. Teachers record observations directly into the online tool. For effective administration, a teacher will require a laptop or device to record responses in the online tool and will have prepared the associated resources and materials required for the tasks.

A student assessment analysis is available once the assessment is lodged. Teachers can access feedback via PLAN2 where the results are mapped to the National Numeracy Learning Progression. PLAN2 can then be used for ongoing monitoring following the assessment.

For further information, visit the Literacy and Numeracy website or contact Literacy and Numeracy.

Student feedback and analysis

Student responses are mapped to indicators from the National Numeracy Learning Progression indicators with information automatically recorded in PLAN2. A Student Assessment Analysis will provide teachers with feedback to inform decisions about next steps in learning for that student. The analysis will be accessed from the assessment tool in the department's ALAN portal

Accessing the assessment

Teachers access the assessment tool at any time via ALAN.


The IfSR resource web pages include materials to assist you to implement the assessments.

The Syllabus and IfSR item mapping tool (XLSX 769KB) (staff only) maps the top response to each IfSR item against the NSW Mathematics K-10 syllabus,


The Interview for Student Reasoning (IfSR) channel in the Numeracy NSW statewide staffroom provides department teachers with resources and regular updates to support the implementation of the IfSR diagnostic assessments. It includes short instructional videos on administering the assessment and navigating the online tool.

Visit the Literacy and numeracy PL web page and Mathematics curriculum web page for more professional learning opportunities in the practical application of evidence-based teaching of numeracy.

NESA - National Numeracy Learning Progression

Information events

Curriculum specialists in the Interview for Student Reasoning (IfSR) channel provide expert advice, resources and professional learning.


New events will be added throughout the year.

Recordings of previous sessions are available via the Past PL tab in the Professional Learning channel of the Numeracy NSW statewide staffroom (staff only)


  • Proportional thinking (IfSR-PT) walk through (recorded Thursday 25 May 2023)
  • Navigating classroom resources and professional learning for IfSR-MT (recorded Wednesday 24 August 2022)
  • Using PLAN2 with IfSR-MT (recorded Wednesday 7 September 2022)

About this resource

Quality assurance

The resources have undergone a rigorous quality assurance process. This ensures the resources provided to schools within the Interview for Student Reasoning suite of assessments are relevant, of high quality, and underpinned by evidence-based practice.

Resources have been refined based on findings from consultation with key stakeholder groups and tested by NSW teachers in 2022-23. Psychometric analysis was completed by Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) for Interview for Student Reasoning – Number and Place Value (IfSR-NP) in 2021. Subject matter experts from Curriculum Early Years and Primary Learners, the NSW Mathematics Strategy team and Literacy and Numeracy endorsed documents to ensure accuracy of content.

Advice on use

The Interview for Student Reasoning (IfSR) suite of assessments are teacher-led online numeracy assessments that are administered by the classroom teacher to individual students through one-to-one interviews. They can be administered at any point in time to reveal what a student knows, ways a student reasons with and thinks about mathematical tasks, and as a tool to investigate the gaps in a student’s mathematical knowledge.

  • The assessments have been modularised to give teachers flexibility in assessing sub-skills for targeted teaching.
  • The administration is flexible and adaptable to enable teachers to gather information on a student's conceptual knowledge in numeracy.
  • IfSR assessments do not need to be administered within a specific timeframe or from beginning to end.
  • Teachers tailor the administration of the assessment to suit the needs of individual students by selecting either a section, sub-section or specific tasks. For example, a teacher may select to administer only a small group of tasks in one section.
  • The teacher decides on tasks and/or sections by reviewing existing assessment such as classroom observations and/or teacher judgement.

This resource may be used across the curriculum where it supports the teaching and learning of numeracy skills aligned to syllabus outcomes.

For further advice on use, please see the assessment guide for each IfSR assessment.


When using these resources in the classroom, it is important for teachers to consider the needs of all students, including Aboriginal and EAL/D learners.

EAL/D learners will require explicit language support and scaffolding, informed by the Enhanced EAL/D enhanced teaching and learning cycle and the student’s phase on the EAL/D Learning Progressions. For further information visit the English as an additional language or dialect education web page.

Learning adjustments enable students with disability and additional learning and support needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. Teachers can use a range of adjustments to ensure a personalised approach to student learning.

A range of tools to identify, assess and challenge high potential and gifted learners are available to support teachers in the classroom. Identifying contributors to achievement helps teachers identify and target areas for students’ growth and improvement. A differentiation adjustment tool can be used to plan effective teaching strategies.

Alignment to system priorities and/or needs:

These resources reflect the following existing frameworks:

Alignment to School Excellence Framework

These resources support the School Excellence Framework and clearly align to the following domains and themes:

Learning domain

  • Assessment: Formative Assessment, Summative Assessment
  • Student Performance Measures: Internal and external measures against syllabus standards

Teaching domain

  • Effective classroom practice: Lesson planning, Explicit teaching, Feedback
  • Data Skills and Use: Data Analysis, Data Use in Teaching
  • Learning and development: Expertise and innovation

Evidence base

Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (2020). What works best: 2020 Update, CESE website

Clarke D, Clarke B and Roche A. (2011) ‘Building Teachers’ Expertise in Understanding, assessing and developing children’s mathematical thinking: the power of task based, one-to-one assessment interviews’, ZDM Mathematics Education 43:901-913

Department of Education and Training, Victoria (n.d.) Assessments for Common Misunderstandings, DET Victoria website

Hurst C and Hurrell D (2016) Assessing Children’s Multiplicative Thinking Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia

Lamon, S (1999) Teaching Fractions and Ratios for Understanding – Essential content knowledge and instructional strategies for teachers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Assoc

Siemon D, Beswick K, Brady K, Clark J, Faragher R, and Warren E (2019) Teaching Mathematics: Foundations to middle years. Oxford University Press

Booker G, Bond D, Sparrow L and Swan P (2014). Teaching primary mathematics. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia

Vale C, Bragg L A, Widjaja W, Herbert S, and Loong E Y-K (2017). ‘Children's mathematical reasoning: opportunities for developing understanding and creative thinking’, Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 22(1), 3


Comments and feedback to contribute to evaluation and support ongoing resource development can be provided via Literacy and Numeracy resource feedback form.

Reviewed by: Literacy and Numeracy team

Last updated: January 2023

Anticipated resource review date: January 2024


  • Numeracy


  • Student assessment

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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