Managing the change

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Moving NAPLAN to a computer-based environment would represent a substantial change for schools. ACARA is working with state and territory governments, and sector representatives to help schools prepare and adapt for this change.

ACARA has identified a number of potential issues relating to the move from paper-based testing to online testing, and is working through these issues as part of the wider research program into online assessment. As solutions are reached and decisions are made, these will be communicated to schools and the wider public. These solutions are being developed based on feedback from schools that have been participating in online assessment trials and in conjunction with numerous partners across Australia.

While there are challenges involved in the move to online assessment, there are also clear benefits.  Online assessments afford opportunities to provide faster feedback on student performance, as well as assessing a wider range of skills and knowledge.

Tailored tests

ACARA is proposing a tailored test design be used for the move online. Tailored tests provide a multi-branching test consisting of interlocking sets of questions. Students answer an initial set of questions and are then directed to subsequent sets of questions based on the accuracy of their responses.

Improving student engagement with the tests is one of the main aims of the move to NAPLAN online. Higher performing students will be asked more challenging questions and students who find the questions too challenging will be presented with questions better suited to their abilities.The tailored test is expected to provide better assessment of individual student achievement relative to ability.

What are the benefits of tailored tests?

The potential benefits of tailored testing for NAPLAN include:

  • Increases student engagement with the tests as tests questions are more aligned with a student’s ability, and the presentation of the questions are more interactive
  • Reduces the anxiety students may experience when exposed to test questions that are beyond their reach
  • Provides teachers and schools with more targeted and detailed information of their students’ performance on the tests

Timing of the tests

It is widely recognised that most schools do not have enough computers to allow all students in Years 3, 5, 7 or 9 to sit the tests at the same time.  Many schools may also experience problems with internet bandwidth in this situation.

To alleviate these problems, ACARA is looking at allowing increased flexibility for tests to be staggered so not all students will have to sit the tests at the same time, as is currently the case. See our infographic explaining the extended test window. For more detailed information, see the NAPLAN Online test window.

It is expected that the tests would still take place in May.  May has been identified by state and territory education ministers and governments, as well as Catholic and independent sector representatives, as the month that is most convenient for all jurisdictions.

If you have any questions about the move to online delivery of NAPLAN, you can contact ACARA at [email protected].

Last updated: 5 July 2016