The national minimum standards describe some of the skills and understandings students can generally demonstrate at their particular year of schooling, in a specific subject area or domain.

The standards are intended to be a snapshot of typical achievement and do not describe the full range of what students are taught or what they may achieve.

The national minimum standards at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 represent increasingly challenging skills and understandings as students move through the years of schooling from Year 3 to Year 9. Students who do not achieve the national minimum standard at any year level may need intervention and support to help them achieve the literacy and numeracy skills they require to progress satisfactorily through their schooling. It should be noted that students who are performing at the national minimum standard may also require additional assistance to enable them to achieve their potential.

About the national minimum standards

The NAPLAN assessment scale is divided into 10 bands to record student results in the tests. Band 1 is the lowest band and band 10 is the highest band. The national minimum standards encompass one band at each year level and therefore represent a wide range of the typical skills demonstrated by students at this level. For more information, see How to interpret.

Students who are below the national minimum standard have not achieved the learning outcomes expected for their year level. They are at risk of being unable to progress satisfactorily at school without targeted intervention.

It should be noted that students who are performing at the national minimum standard may also require additional assistance to enable them to achieve their potential.

The number and percentage of questions a student needs to answer correctly to achieve the national minimum standard varies depending on the test domain and year level. The number of test items at or below the national minimum standard can also vary between test years depending on the spread of items in the tests.

A student’s score point on each scale is determined by the student’s total test score rather than the most difficult item correctly answered. Students will be able to correctly answer most of the items that are below their score point and may correctly answer some of the items above their score point.

Students within a minimum standard band will typically be able to display skills in that band and in the band below and display some of the skills in the bands above the minimum standard.

For more information on interpreting NAPLAN results see Test results.

About proficient standards

Achievement in the NAP sample assessments (science literacy, civics and citizenship, and ICT literacy) is measured against nationally agreed proficiency scales, each of which has a number of defined levels.

For each of the 3 sample assessments, a proficient standard is also defined. Proficient standards represent a ‘challenging but reasonable’ level of performance where students need to demonstrate more than the minimal skills expected at that year level.

Proficient standards are not the same as national minimum standards (NMS) because the NMS refer to the basic level of knowledge and understanding needed to function at that year level. The NMS are more suited to foundation areas such as reading, writing and numeracy where deficiencies will have significant effects on students’ future learning and functioning in society. In contrast, proficient standards refer to what is expected of a student at that year level.