Tailored tests

NAPLAN Online uses a tailored test design, that automatically adapts to a student's test performance and asks questions that match the student's achievement level. Tailored testing allows students to demonstrate what they know and encourages students to stay engaged with the test. Tailored testing also provides teachers and schools access to more targeted and detailed information on students’ performance in the online assessment.

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:

All students at each year level start with the same set of questions (testlet A). Depending on the student's test performance in testlet A, the second testlet includes questions with overlapping content that may be easier (B) or more difficult (D).

At the end of the second testlet, the student is directed to a third testlet, again depending on their test performance. The final testlet also includes overlapping content of varying difficulty: hard (F), medium (E), easy (C).

Students who complete a more complex pathway are more likely to achieve a higher score (and a higher band placement). A student who answers the same number of questions correctly, but follows a less complex pathway, will achieve a lower score.

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 show that students are more engaged with tests that adapt to their test performance.

  • Students who experience difficulty early in the test are given some questions of lower complexity, more suited to their performance. These students are less likely to become discouraged as they progress through the tests. High-achieving students are given more challenging questions.

  • 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 answer the same number of questions as in 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.

Watch our video on tailored testing.