Frequently asked questions

NAPLAN 2018 parent and carer information

The National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It is a point in time test that provides a snapshot of the literacy and numeracy skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible for developing the NAPLAN assessment and the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is responsible for administering NAPLAN tests in NSW.

NAPLAN provides a snapshot of a student’s achievement in the fundamental skills of literacy and numeracy. The data provides schools, parents and education systems with information to help support students in their learning. Teachers can use NAPLAN to confirm their own assessments of students and to help identify what students can do and need to learn. NAPLAN results should always be considered together with other school-based assessments.

In 2018 schools across Australia started moving NAPLAN from paper to online testing, with all schools on track to participate in NAPLAN Online by 2020.

NAPLAN Online uses tailored testing where the test automatically adapts to a student’s performance and asks questions that match their achievement level. This provides a greater opportunity for students to demonstrate what they know and results in more targeted, precise and detailed information for teachers and schools on students’ performance.

Online assessment reduces the time it takes to mark the tests and provide reports back to schools. This means that very soon after the tests are completed, teachers will get important and accurate information about what your child can do and still needs to learn, which enables them to plan their teaching more effectively.

By 2020, student results will be returned to parents and carers within weeks of the NAPLAN test, as opposed to months under the current timeline.

Students find the online format far more engaging than the paper tests, and have reported that they try harder and feel less anxious about the online tests.

NAPLAN Online is not a test of computer skills but students should be familiar with the device they will use to complete the test. Basic ICT skills are a requirement of the Australian curriculum and should be a part of everyday learning in each school.

The NAPLAN writing assessment is not about handwriting or keyboarding skills and students do not need to be able to touch type to successfully complete the test.

NAPLAN Online worked very well. For students who did the tests online, the information teachers have about what they can do and still need to learn is more accurate and detailed than before.

Feedback from schools show that most students found the online assessment more engaging when compared to pencil and paper.

The transition to NAPLAN Online is being managed over three years. In 2018, 550 schools in NSW moved online. All other schools sat the paper test. More than 1,000 schools in NSW will participate in NAPLAN Online in 2019, with all schools on track to participate online in 2020.

Individual student reports will start to arrive in schools from 13 September. The reports will indicate whether your child did NAPLAN online or on paper.

ACARA has published a guide on interpreting the information contained in the report -

Contact your child’s school if you have further questions about understanding the information in the report.

ACARA develops the NAPLAN tests and uses a process called ‘equating’ to make each test comparable from year to year. This year the equating process has been more complex than usual as some students did tests online and some on paper.

Care should be taken when comparing student results from previous years as there may be some variability in the results in some instances.

Schools and parents are reminded that a child’s NAPLAN results provide a snapshot and should always be considered together with other school-based assessments undertaken throughout the school year.

No. NAPLAN is only one source of information that our teachers use to inform the ways they try to meet the needs of students. Every day teachers in NSW public schools are looking at individual data and individual progress on a range of measures to decide on appropriate teaching strategies.

According to ACARA, this year’s results for Year 9 students who completed the writing test online were, on average, higher than the results of students who completed the writing test on paper. The difference may be due to Year 9 students having greater confidence writing online than on paper. All Year 3 students completed writing on paper, including those schools who participated in NAPLAN Online.

The reports will give you accurate information about the literacy and numeracy skills your child did and did not demonstrate on these tests.

For 2018 and 2019, comparisons with previous paper test results may be less consistent and should be treated with care. As always, it’s a good idea to discuss results with your child’s teacher if you have concerns.

From 2020 when all students do NAPLAN in an online format, the comparability will be more precise.

General questions

Education ministers have agreed to full participation in NAPLAN Online by all schools by 2020.

The NSW Minister for Education has determined that around 500 NSW schools will participate in NAPLAN Online in 2018.

All other schools will sit paper NAPLAN tests and will receive support to move to NAPLAN Online by 2020.

NAPLAN Online will provide a faster turnaround of results to teachers and caregivers, meaning that student learning needs can be identified sooner.

NAPLAN Online will provide 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 Online will provide a more precise and beneficial assessment that has potential to adapt as technology develops.

Commonwealth, state and territory education ministers have agreed that all Australian schools will move to NAPLAN Online by 2020.

Once a school has transitioned to NAPLAN Online, 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.

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.

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.

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.

As is currently the case for NAPLAN, adjustments are provided for students with disability, including assistive technology, with approval from NESA. Learn more about adjustments at:

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

Adjustments available in NAPLAN Online will be at least equivalent to what is currently available for NAPLAN paper.

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 will allow 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.

NAPLAN Online 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.

Automated marking is currently used in the paper NAPLAN test to mark numeracy, reading and conventions of language and will remain in use for these purposes in NAPLAN Online.

The automated essay scoring system will not be used to mark NAPLAN Online writing tests. Instead, trained markers will be employed to mark student writing, as is currently the case with paper-based NAPLAN tests.

NAPLAN Online 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.

You can read more about tailored testing on the NAPLAN Online tailored testing webpage.

Yes. Security and privacy are key requirements for the delivery of national testing. The online assessment platform has been 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.

Technical readiness

Technical readiness activities identified schools that required additional resources, such as devices, bandwidth and Wi-Fi. As a result, there was significant investment in network infrastructure and bandwidth speed to prepare school for the move to online testing. All schools moving online have demonstrated their readiness.

Yes. iPads and tablets can be used, providing they meet the technical requirements. iPad minis are not suitable for participating in NAPLAN Online.

Yes. Headphones or earphones are required for each student to complete NAPLAN Online. For example, the spelling test includes audio delivery of words that students are required to type in.

Yes, however it will be at the discretion of the individual school. Each device will require the installation of a locked down browser application, which prevents students from accessing unauthorised websites, applications and spellcheck features.

The ACARA website has more information on technical requirements for NAPLAN Online.

No. A mouse is not necessary for successful interaction with the online items, although they can be used if a school prefers this approach.

The national assessment platform used for NAPLAN Online is accessed using a specially developed locked down browser that is available for Windows, Macintosh, iPads and Chromebooks. This is the same locked down browser used in the school readiness test.

Department-managed eT4L devices will have an installation package available from the software catalogue for schools to deploy. For other devices, schools will need to install the locked down browser on each device.

The locked down browser will ensure that students cannot access unauthorised websites, applications and spell-checking features during the online tests.

ACARA has conducted a device effect study, which found that there is no overall device effect across content domains, item types and year levels.

No student is disadvantaged if their device stops working during the NAPLAN Online test. In the case of interruptions, tests can be paused and resumed as required with no time lost. If a device stops working, all responses will have been saved and the student can usually complete their test in a rescheduled test session.


Additional training will be available in February, March and April, and will include eLearning modules, and Adobe Connect and face-to-face training sessions. Visit the NAPLAN Online training webpage for more information.

Readiness activities

The school readiness test was an assessment of schools’ readiness to administer NAPLAN Online. It was designed to provide confidence in the online system, confirm whether schools have adequate ICT capacity, and facilitate change management and training at a school level in test administration and logistics.

All NSW schools were required to participate in the school readiness test, with the following exceptions:

  • schools where all students are currently exempt from NAPLAN assessments
  • distance, satellite and low bandwidth schools
  • schools that did not have the ICT capability to participate at that time.

Since 2016, some schools who participated in ACARA or NSW research projects have used an online platform that is similar in style to the NAPLAN Online test platform. Information about these trials and research can be found on the NAP website.

The technical readiness check assessed how prepared schools were to deliver NAPLAN Online. Schools were asked to identify:

  • the number of devices and headphones or earphones the school has that meet the minimum specifications for the online assessment platform
  • suitable rooms or spaces with enough access points to accommodate students in an online test environment
  • whether they have sufficient internet capabilities.

As a result of the checklist, some schools were provided with additional resources.

The platform readiness test took place between 23 October and 1 November 2017. This was an end-to-end test to ensure the readiness of the NAPLAN Online platform and its full functionality, including the generation of example reports. Around ten schools in each state and territory participated in the test.


The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) will provide platform and process support for schools during NAPLAN Online. Support will be provided through the NESA help desk, as it was during the school readiness test. Technical support relating to school devices and networks will continue to be provided by ED Connect.

Contact the NAPLAN Online transition team:


Phone: 1300 790 844

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