Connection to the Australian Curriculum

NAPLAN aligned with the Australian Curriculum

Since 2016, NAPLAN testing has been aligned to the Australian Curriculum: English and the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. The purpose and principles that guide the development of NAPLAN, an overview of what NAPLAN assesses and how the tests are designed can be found in the NAPLAN Assessment Framework (PDF 708 KB).

Each state and territory determines when it will implement Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum. It is expected the full national implementation will take a number of years. In the interim, NAPLAN will test skills that are aligned in versions 8.4 and 9.0.

The best preparation for NAPLAN is to teach the curriculum.

Across the conventions of language, numeracy and reading tests

Items in the tests are based primarily on knowledge, understanding and skills gained from previous years of schooling. A few questions assess additional content from the year of testing and the following year. These questions have been designed so that they can be answered using strategies students have learnt in previous years. This is to ensure the range of items in the tests allow all students to demonstrate their capability.

Schools receive student results linked to item descriptors that describe the skills and knowledge tested in NAPLAN. These descriptors are directly linked to content descriptions in the Australian Curriculum: English and the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics.

Conventions of language tests

In the NAPLAN conventions of language tests, the way information is presented to students reflects how it is presented in the Australian Curriculum. This means slightly more metalanguage is included in questions than before the alignment to the Australian Curriculum.

For example, in the past, when the NAPLAN test for Years 3 and 5 used words such as ‘noun’, ‘verb’ and ‘adjective’, there was an explanation of the word in brackets; that is, ‘noun’ was followed by ‘naming word’. Now, the words ‘noun’, ‘verb’ and ‘adjective’ appear in the NAPLAN test with no explaining words.

Numeracy tests

In the NAPLAN numeracy tests, the proportion of questions from each strand matches the proportion of the strand content in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. There are slightly fewer ‘space questions’ (for example, features of 2D shapes and 3D objects) and more number, statistics and probability questions than in tests prior to 2016. The space items are now known as ‘geometry items’.

From 2017, the number of numeracy items changed to be consistent with the expectations of the Australian Curriculum and other NAPLAN domains. The number of items in the Year 3 test increased from 35 to 36 questions. The number of items in the Year 5 test increased from 40 to 42 questions.

For Year 7 and Year 9, the number of items in the numeracy test reduced from 64 questions to 48 questions. ACARA studies indicate this change does not unduly affect the reliability and validity of the numeracy test. Year 7 and Year 9 students sit one numeracy test with 2 parts: a calculator-allowed section and a non-calculator section. While the non-calculator section of the test is shorter, the number of questions across the entire test that require mental calculation remains the same.

Reading tests

The NAPLAN reading tests focus on the reading content of the Australian Curriculum: English, with the range of text complexity similar to pre-2016 NAPLAN texts.

Writing tests

There are no substantive changes to the NAPLAN writing tests or the marking guides. As in past years, students are be asked to write a narrative or persuasive response to a writing prompt. 

There are multiple writing prompts for all year levels; the text type or genre of the writing test will not be disclosed prior to the test. Students’ responses are marked using the relevant NAPLAN narrative or persuasive marking guides.