Interrogating australian student voice on the national assessment program – literacy and numeracy

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Purpose – In Australia, under the National Assessment Plan, educational accountability testing in literacy and numeracy is annually undertaken with one million students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to monitor student achievement and inform policy. This is undertaken through high-stakes testing through the National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests. Since 2008, NAPLAN improvements have focused on how the results are publicly reported, but it still continues to draw criticism for its narrow scope and negative impact on students. This small-scale study aims to highlight the views of students across Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 who sat for the NAPLAN test in 2023 and their experience of sitting the new online adaptive version of this test as well as their perception of its usefulness in their learning.

Research question – What perceptions do students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 have of the importance of NAPLAN tests within their own learning?

Context – Changes to the NAPLAN in 2023, included introducing earlier testing in March, and improved reporting methods. Over 2022-23, the Australian government aims to provide $26.4 billion to states and territories to support school education under its Quality Schools arrangements. The NAPLAN, as a system-level tool indicates the effectiveness of this return on investment. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority claim NAPLAN 2023 will assist teachers in providing targeted learning support, including challenging high-performers and identifying students who need support. This suggested diagnostic ability will be available for students and schools when results come out in July this year. They suggest the test will assist schools in mapping individual student progress, identifying strengths and weaknesses in teaching programs and setting school goals for further improvement in literacy and numeracy. NAPLAN results are transparently reported since 2008 on the MySchool website, positioning it as a high-stakes test meeting public accountability and confidence in Australian schooling. However, practitioners and researchers have advocated against this test’s negative impact on equitable teaching and learning across Australian schools.

Methods – This study used an open-access, quantitative survey tool to identify Australian students' perceptions of the usefulness of this test in their learning. This novel approach, securing student voice on a large-scale test, was the first of its kind in Australia, even though substantial research has been done on NAPLAN's impact on students, schools and teachers.

Evidence – Over 500 students took part in this study and provided their views on the NAPLAN test. This data is being analysed to understand its usefulness as perceived by Australian students who undertake NAPLAN four times during the duration of their school years.

Educational importance – The findings provide student-level first-hand insight into the effectiveness of this test. The findings may provide recommendations for improvements to NAPLAN test administration, reporting and data use in schools.

Connection to the conference theme – The findings may inform educational systems through leveraging research and data on student perceptions of NAPLAN for better inquiry, insight, innovation and professional learning on using the data from these tests at the student and teacher level.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024
EventInternational Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement 2024: Quality Professional Education for Enhanced School Effectiveness and Improvement: International Perspectives and Approaches - Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 8 Jan 202412 Jan 2024


ConferenceInternational Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement 2024
Abbreviated titleICSEI 2024
Internet address

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