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NAPLAN explained


The families of 15,000 South Australian Catholic school students who completed NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) tests in 2023 will be the first to receive results under a redesigned reporting method.

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The annual assessments for Year 3, 5, 7, and 9 students in key areas of literacy and numeracy were also completed earlier this year to allow schools more time to review and act upon results.

Both parents and schools will receive results from early Term 3, with the Catholic Education Office supporting schools to analyse results to better understand students’ needs and refine teaching practices.

A simpler scale for clearer insight

Students will now receive a level of achievement based on four new proficiency standards, which include: ‘needs additional support’, indicating a student that may need extra assistance; ‘developing’, signifying a student is progressing towards proficiency while ‘strong’ or ‘exceeding’ represents literacy or numeracy skills at a proficient or highly proficient level. These standards are designed to be more meaningful and clearer for parents and carers, replacing the previous 10 band common scale. Additional context is provided to families with the inclusion of comparisons to national and school averages.

By understanding their child’s proficiency levels, parents can identify their child’s potential strengths and weaknesses, allowing targeted assistance for further improvement or facilitating conversations with the school or classroom teacher. However, parents are encouraged to balance their child’s NAPLAN results with other evidence such as their academic reports, feedback from teachers, and the child’s sense of connection to their school and learning.

Making the most of NAPLAN results

NAPLAN results not only provide valuable insights for parents but will also be used by South Australian Catholic schools to better understand student needs and adjust teaching and learning programs. Supporting schools to analyse results, the Catholic Education Office is committed to providing tailored resources and professional development. School leaders will participate in a supported program of analysis that can be shared with all classroom teachers.

Schools are encouraged to examine results to answer questions such as: How do our results compare to similar or like schools? Which students did not appear to reach their full potential? Are we challenging our most gifted learners? What type of test questions did students find most difficult? These reflections can be used for targeted student support and to adjust how curriculum topics are taught.

The Catholic Education Office does not promote or use NAPLAN results to rank schools. By understanding the student behind the data, test scores should be used to gain insights rather than make direct comparisons. Schools will convene in regional groups later in Term 3 to hear national and state trends and share their own experience from analysing students’ results.

Final word for families

NAPLAN results provide parents and carers with a unique view of their child’s and school performance when compared against national standards. This contrasts with a child’s end of semester report card which relies upon the professional judgment of the classroom teacher.  However, NAPLAN is not without limitations. For consistency and efficiency, tests are conducted online with strict time limits, providing a one dimensional assessment experience. This should be compared to a child’s report card which considers multiple assessments over a semester where children have more opportunity to demonstrate learning.

A balanced perspective will serve parents well when considering their child’s results. NAPLAN scores should not be dismissed as not important in relation to a child’s development in literacy and numeracy. However, the test serves as a snapshot only and is not a conclusive, summative examination of their learning. If concerned, parents can contact their school for support and for a broader understanding of their child’s journey.

Jarrod Carter is CESA’s Educational Data analyst and coordinates NAPLAN testing for all South Australian Catholic schools. Email:

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