From the Principal – Understanding NAPLAN

What is the purpose of NAPLAN?

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, NAPLAN, introduced in 2018, is an assessment for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students. Over the last two weeks, our Santa Maria students in Years 5, 7 and 9 have participated in NAPLAN.

NAPLAN is made up of tests in four domains, Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy and shows how individual students are progressing in numeracy and literacy skills against national standards for all Australian children in their age group. NAPLAN is not a test of content. It tests skills in literacy and numeracy that are developed over time through the school curriculum. This year, for the first time, NAPLAN was administered online and although there have been some minor issues transitioning overall it has been relatively smooth.



What are the benefits of NAPLAN Online?

  • More precise results because NAPLAN Online is designed to adapt to a student’s performance automatically. If a student is giving correct answers, then more challenging questions will be asked to enable each student to demonstrate what they are capable of.
  • Faster release of results which allows us more timely use of the data. We are expecting our school data in June, and parent data in August, instead of December.
  • Research into online assessments has shown that students engage well with electronic tests.


How did the College prepare students for NAPLAN?

Santa Maria College familiarises our students with the NAPLAN format and process but does not believe that ongoing drill and repetition is needed. We believe our focus on curriculum and engaging pedagogy is more valuable in improving results. Excessive preparation is of limited benefit and can lead to unnecessary anxiety.


How will the College use the NAPLAN results?

NAPLAN assists our staff in determining whether or not our students have the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the foundation for a student’s ability to learn and to participate in society.

For example, if the NAPLAN data shows:

  • a lower than expected results it may indicate a need for intervention
  • an expected result it indicates progress is appropriate
  • a higher than expected result it may indicate a student is not performing to their potential in class

We use the NAPLAN data in conjunction with other data such as incoming testing, results for each subject, teacher knowledge of student abilities and a range of other information. NAPLAN is only one assessment tool which should not be used in isolation but can be a useful starting point for teachers in developing programs.



NAPLAN is a controversial test which has a significant impact on the College and our girls. It is a Government requirement and is in place for the foreseeable future. We continually review the way we use the data and investigate opportunities on how we can target improved literacy and numeracy outcomes for our cohorts and individuals.

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