Tailored tests

NAPLAN Online uses a tailored test or adaptive design, where the test automatically adapts to a student's performance and asks questions that match a student's achievement level, allowing a student to demonstrate their knowledge. This provides teachers and schools with more targeted and detailed information on students’ performance on the tests. Tailored testing also provides an opportunity to broaden the scope of the assessments.

The tailored test design for reading and numeracy was developed and trialled in schools in 2013 and 2014.

The diagram and discussion below illustrate the proposed design for NAPLAN Online tests:

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All students at each year level start with the same set of questions (testlet A). The computer system scores the student's answers automatically and the student then progresses to a second testlet. The second testlet may be easier (B) or more difficult (D) than question A, depending on the student's achievement.

At the end of the second testlet, the student is directed to a third testlet, again depending on achievement. The final testlets are of varying difficulty: hard (F), medium (E), easy (C).
Benefits of tailored testing include:
  • Tailored tests provide a more precise measurement of student performance. This allows for greater differentiation of students by using a wider range of question difficulty, without adding to the length of the test for each individual student.

  • Trials of the tailored test design suggest that students are more engaged with tests that adapt to their achievement. Students who struggle early in the test are given questions that are more suited to their performance, so that students are less likely to become discouraged as they progress through the tests. High-achieving students are given questions that they find more challenging.

  • The tailored test design has the potential to reduce anxiety in students who may find the current paper-based format of NAPLAN too challenging.

  • While each student will continue to answer the same number of questions as for the paper tests, the number of items in the whole test is larger. As a result, a wider range of aspects of the curriculum can be tested.

Download the Tailored testing fact sheet (PDF 288 kb).

Watch our video on tailored testing below.