Testing and assessment


What is assessment?

Assessment is the purposeful, systematic and ongoing collection of information as evidence for use in making judgments about student learning. Systems, principals, teachers and students use assessment information to support improvements in student learning.

The Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals for Young Australians defines three broad purposes for assessment.

  • Assessment for learning — enabling teachers to use information about student progress to inform their teaching. Examples include formative assessment, pre-tests, diagnostic tests, reading assessments.
  • Assessment as learning — enabling students to reflect on and monitor their own progress to inform their future learning goals. Examples include reflection and feedback during the teaching of a concept.
  • Assessment of learning — assisting teachers, principals and systems to use evidence of student learning to assess student achievement against goals and standards. For example, final assessment tasks for units of work.
    (Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, December 2008 p.14).

Assessment is not an ‘add on’. It is integral to the teaching and learning process.   

Assessment must:

  • be integrated meaningfully into the flow of planned lessons
  • serve the needs of diverse groups of students to productively inform teaching practice and the next steps for learning.

National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

NAPLAN tests were first implemented in May 2008 when national tests were held in literacy and numeracy for all students in Australia in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. These tests replaced the previous State and Territory-based assessments and have the support of all Education Ministers.

Purpose of the tests:

The NAPLAN tests are designed to assess the skills of Australian students in literacy and numeracy. The specific purposes are:

  • to collect data from the population of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students for reporting to parents/carers and schools for systematic reporting
  • to accommodate the assessment of students against national minimum standards.

What is tested?

A series of tests will assess areas of literacy and numeracy.

The following areas of literacy are assessed:

  • Language conventions - spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Writing - knowledge and control of written language
  • Reading - comprehension.

Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will be required to write a persuasive text for the 2011 NAPLAN Writing test.

In numeracy, the content areas assessed are:

  • Number
  • Measurement, chance and data
  • Space
  • Algebra, function and pattern (formal algebra for Year 9 only).

Results from the tests will provide important information about children's progress in literacy and numeracy. Following the tests, schools and students will receive a statement of performance in relation to the national minimum standards.

More NAPLAN information is available by visiting the NAPLAN website.

Last reviewed 26 February 2020
Last updated 26 February 2020