This glossary provides an explanation of some of the terms used on this website.

A  B  C  D  E   F  G   H  I  J   K  L  M  N   O  P   Q  R  S  T   U   V  W   X  Y   Z

A Absent student A student who did not take the tests because they were not present when the test was administered or were not able to take the test in a catch-up session.
Empty Title Alternative format tests Tests provided in a format outside the Online National Assessment Platform, either as a paper test (e.g. Year 3 writing tests) or as a disability adjustment (e.g. braille tests). All alternative format tests, apart from Year 3 writing tests, require approval from the relevant TAA.
Empty Title Alternative format (paper) tests Alternative format (paper) tests are provided for the Year 3 writing test, and for all domains for schools with a TAA-approved alternative curriculum, where technology is not introduced until Year 5 or above.
Empty Title Alternative format (disability adjustment) tests Alternative format (disability adjustment) tests refer to hard copy braille, large print, black-and-white tests and electronic PDF tests.
Empty Title Assessed students Assessed students include (a) students who attempt the test (and are not otherwise treated as absent because of abandonment due to illness or injury), (b) students who are exempt from testing and (c) students who are present but refuse to sit the test.
Empty Title Assessment framework

A clear definition of the scope and method of testing in each of the 3 areas included in the NAP sample assessments.

Empty Title Assessment scale Each of the NAPLAN assessment scales describes the development of student achievement in a domain from Year 3 through to Year 9, along a ten-band scale. By locating all student results on a single scale that describes their performance and skills, the NAPLAN assessment scales provide significant information about the performance of students.
B  Band

The NAPLAN assessment scale is divided into ten bands, used to report student progress through Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Band 1 is the lowest band and band 10 is the highest band. A band contains a range of scores and is not a specific point.

 C Cohort

A group of students.

Empty Title Cohort gain   Cohort gain refers to the difference in an aggregated group of students’ achievement levels between 2 testing years. Please note same students are not identified when measuring cohort gain. At a school level the term student progress is used which is different. See also ‘Student progress’. 
Empty Title Common scale When 2 or more tests are equated, the difficulties of test items and student performances can be measured on the same (common) scale. This enables direct comparison of test performances between year groups and calendar years.
Empty Title Confidence intervals An indication of the statistical uncertainty to expect when estimating population parameters using statistics from a sample (e.g. a sample mean score).
Empty Title Correlation coefficient An indicator of the extent to which 2 variables (e.g. reading and numeracy scale scores) vary together. A positive correlation coefficient suggests that as the scores for one variable increase, so do the scores of the other variable; and a negative correlation coefficient suggests that as one set of scores increases, the other decreases.
Empty Title Criterion variable A variable that is predicted from a combination of other variables after a statistical analysis has taken place. It is sometimes referred to as a dependent variable.
 D Disability adjustments

Adjustments intended to allow students with disability to participate in and access the tests on an equivalent basis to students without disability, while upholding the integrity of the testing process.

Empty Title Domain

A domain is the term used to describe a subject or learning area that is the focus of a test. The 5 learning areas tested in NAPLAN are reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy. These are called test domains. There are 3 domains for sample assessments: civics and citizenship, information and communications technology literacy and science literacy.

 E Equating
The process by which 2 or more tests are placed on the same measurement scale. This is so student performances and item (question) difficulties can be compared directly.
Empty Title Exempt students Students may be exempted from one or more of the tests on the grounds of English language proficiency or disability. Principals must obtain signed parent/carer consent for exempted students prior to testing. Exempt students are part of the cohort of assessed students, but do not have to sit the NAPLAN tests. If the student chooses to sit and submit any of the tests, they will be counted as assessed students with the score that they achieved.
 G Geolocation

The MCEETYA (also known as MCEECDYA) geolocation classification system is based on the locality of individual schools and is used to disaggregate data according to metropolitan, provincial, remote and very remote. This standard was used from 2008 to 2015. From 2016 the ABS remoteness structure has been used. See also ‘Remoteness’.

 I Item

A test item is a test question. 

 J Jurisdiction

State or territory in Australia. Test administration authorities are responsible for the implementation and administration of the NAPLAN tests in their jurisdiction (e.g. New South Wales, Northern Territory, Tasmania, etc).

 L Likert-type items Items to which respondents are required to select one of several categories (e.g. ‘strongly disagree’, ‘disagree’, ‘agree’, ‘strongly agree’) to indicate their intensity of response to the item.
Empty Title Link items or common items Questions that appear in more than one test. Having link items is one method of equating tests. Link items can be ‘vertical’ (e.g. having common items in NAPLAN 2021 reading Year 3 and NAPLAN 2021 reading Year 5 tests), or ‘horizontal’ (e.g. having common items in tests administered in different calendar years).
 M Marking rubric The marking rubric is the set of criteria against which the writing test is assessed.
Empty Title Mean

The average result in an analysed data set.


NAPLAN stands for the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy. NAPLAN is a series of common literacy and numeracy tests conducted annually across Australia for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

Empty Title NAPLAN average

The average refers to the average NAPLAN score of students in Australia per year level and test domain.

Empty Title NAP sample assessments

The NAP sample assessments test students’ skills and understanding in science literacy, civics and citizenship and information and communication technology (ICT) Literacy. Only selected groups of students in Years 6 and 10 participate in these sample assessments, which are held on a rolling three-yearly basis.

Empty Title National minimum standard

The national minimum standards represent minimum performance standards in literacy and numeracy for a given year level, below which students will have difficulty progressing satisfactorily at school.

Empty Title Non-attempt

A non-attempt is a student who was present but either refused to sit the test or sat the test but did not provide sufficient information to estimate an achievement score.

 P Participation

In NAP tests, participation rates are calculated as all assessed and exempt students as a percentage of the total number of students in the year level, as reported by schools, which includes those absent and withdrawn.

Empty Title Proficiency level

The NAP sample assessment scales are divided into a number of levels, depending on the domain. These levels are like bands for NAPLAN in that they encompass a range of scores.

Empty Title Proficiency scale Proficiency scales are developed for NAP sample assessments, and enable comparisons of results in each domain to be made from year to year. Proficiency scales are similar to the assessment scales for NAPLAN but are divided into proficiency levels instead of bands.
Empty Title Proficient standard

A proficient standard is the standard in each of the NAP sample assessments that represents a reasonably challenging level of performance where students need to show more than the minimal skills expected at that year level. Proficient standards are not the same as national minimum standards because the latter refers to the basic level needed to function at that year level whereas proficient standard refers to what is expected of a student at that year level.

Empty Title Psychometrician

A psychometrician is a person practising any or all aspects of psychometrics. Psychometrics is an area of statistics concerned with educational and psychological measurement. This includes the construction of tests, construction of measurement scales and the development and refinement of theoretical approaches to measurement.

R  Rasch model A statistical model developed to analyse data and responses from assessments such as the NAP tests. It enables student abilities and item (question) difficulties to be placed on the same scale. It is particularly efficient for equating tests.
Empty Title Raw score The raw score on a given test is the number of marks obtained on that test.
Empty Title Remoteness  The ABS remoteness structure (a component of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard ASGS) is based on the locality of individual schools and is used to disaggregate data according to major cities, inner regional, outer regional, remote and very remote. This standard has been used since 2016. From 2008 to 2015, the MCEETYA geolocation classification system was used. See also ‘Geolocation’. 
 S Sample testing Testing a portion of the population rather than testing the entire population. It is a relatively efficient method of obtaining general information about the performance of a population without having to test all members of the population.
Empty Title Scale

The assessment scales describe the skills and performance of student achievement in each of the NAP tests. Each of the NAPLAN assessment scales describes the development of student achievement in a domain from Year 3 through to Year 9, along a ten-band scale. By locating all student results on a single scale that describes their performance and skills, the NAPLAN assessment scales provide significant information about the performance of students. Sample assessment scales function in the same way, but are divided into levels instead of bands.

Empty Title Scores

NAP test results are reported both as direct scores and in bands or levels. 

Empty Title Standard deviation A statistical measure defined as the average amount by which scores in a test differ from the overall average score, that is, how ‘spread out’ the results are from the average result. The larger the standard deviation, the more spread out the values are.
Empty Title Statistically significant A difference in results is statistically significant if the probability is very small (smaller than 0.05) that this difference was caused by chance.
Empty Title Student progress  The difference in the same students’ achievement levels between 2 testing years in the same test domain within a school. The same students are identified to ensure they were at the same school 2 years prior and are excluded if not. Displayed on My School as Student progress graphs. At an aggregate level the term cohort gain is used which is a different construct. See also ‘Cohort gain’. 
 T Test administration authority

An education department or NAPLAN test authority in each state or territory, which has a responsibility for administration of the tests in their jurisdiction.

 W Withdrawn students Students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. Withdrawals are intended to address issues such as religious beliefs and philosophical objections to testing.
 Y Years of schooling

States and territories have different school starting ages. Years of schooling is an estimate of the average time students have spent in schooling at the time of testing, expressed in years and months.