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2.2 National assessment

Purpose:  To  provide a quality, comprehensive and cohesive suite of national assessments 

Criteria source:  ACARA Corporate Plan 2019–20 and Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2019–20: Education and Training – ACARA Budget Statements – Outcome 1 Program 1.2, page 81 .

Performance criterion

National Assessment Program (NAP) – NAPLAN and NAP sample assessments delivered


ACARA’s role in the delivery of NAP successfully undertaken (including NAPLAN Online, as determined by state and territory authorities) and related results reported


Not achieved ☐ Partially achieved ☐ Achieved☐ Impacted by COVID-19 ☒

Supporting statement

On 20 March 2020, ministers agreed to not proceed with NAPLAN in May 2020. In June 2020, ministers agreed to postpone the NAP sample assessment for 2020. All of ACARA’s responsibilities in delivery and reporting of the NAP have been achieved to the extent possible during the reporting year.


On 20 March 2020, education ministers made the decision not to proceed with NAPLAN in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was taken to assist school leaders, teachers and support staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education, including potential online and remote learning.

Subsequently, the NAPLAN 2020 equating study scheduled for April–May 2020 and the 2021 item trial scheduled forJuly–August 2020 were also cancelled.

ACARA’s activities in relation to the 2020 test development and preparation for online reporting of preliminary school results had already been completed as scheduled.


From August to September 2019, NAPLAN 2019 individual student reports were distributed by jurisdictions, providing parents and carers with an opportunity to identify their child’s strengths and achievements in the areas of literacy and numeracy, and to identify any areas where attention is required. This included information on the mode of testing; that is, paper or online, as per the 2018 reports.

The 2019 NAPLAN summary information (preliminary results) was published on 28 August 2019. The 2019 NAPLAN National Report and test incident report were both published on 25 February 2020. The 2019 technical report was published on 29 June 2020.

NAP Sample – Science Literacy 2018

The 2018 NAP Sample – Science Literacy (NAP–SL) public report was approved by Education Council and published on ACARA’s NAP website on 27 February 2020, together with the 2018 NAP–SL technical report and public demonstration tests for Years 6 and 10.

NAP Sample – Civics and Citizenship 2019

Between October and November 2019, the sixth assessment cycle of the NAP Sample – Civics and Citizenship (NAP–CC) was successfully conducted online. As part of the development of NAP–CC 2019, a new set of assessment items was developed at each year level, with an additional focus on History as a component of the revised NAP–CC Assessment Framework.

Approximately 5,600 Year 6 students (in 332 schools) and 4,500 Year 10 students (in 295 schools) across all states and territories participated in the sample assessment. All participating schools received a summary report showing student responses compared with the national percentage of correct answers for each item together with links to the Australian Curriculum (AC).

NAP – Information and Communication Technology Literacy 2020

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, in light of schools needing to focus on student and staff safety, and the importance of attending to the education programs for students, education ministers agreed in June 2020 to postpone the NAP sample assessments by 12 months (including postponing the related field trial by 12 months).

Performance criterion

NAP for information and communication technology literacy (ICTL) revised, relative to the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and ICT general capability


In accordance with the National STEM Strategy, the pilot study and trial of NAP–ICTL successfully undertaken in line with the revised definition of ICTL, relative to the Australian Curriculum and digital technology


Not achieved ☐ Partially achieved ☐ Achieved ☒

Supporting statement

Following extensive consultation, the NAP – ICT Literacy Assessment Framework was updated to explicitly document the alignment with the AC: ICT capability and the AC: Digital Technologies. The NAP – ICT Literacy construct definition was also revised in response to feedback and recommendations from the NAP – ICT Literacy Working Group and in consultation with ACARA’s curriculum specialists. The revised construct continues to support the ongoing assessment and reporting of student achievement against the existing NAP–ICTL achievement scale, while ensuring that the assessment remains up to date in a world of rapid technological change.

Analysis of performance

On 13 September 2019, Education Council agreed to establish the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) CEO as the senior responsible officer (SRO) for NAPLAN Online and commission additional technical support for the implementation of a single point of responsibility and accountability for the administration of NAPLAN Online in 2020.

As part of the revised governance arrangements, agreed to by the Australian Education Senior Officials Committee (AESOC) in October 2019, the NAPLAN Online Steering Committee (NOSC) was established to support the SRO in exercising responsibility for the implementation of the 2020 NAPLAN Online program of work. Membership of the NOSC includes representatives from all jurisdictions, with strengthened technical expertise, ACARA and Education Services Australia (ESA), and the Director of the Project Management Office (PMO), with Deloitte and non-government sector representatives as contributing observers.

During the reporting period, ACARA worked with NOSC and ESA (the agency responsible for the online assessment and delivery system, ‘the platform’) to ensure that the NAP tests are delivered to users as expected. ACARA undertook quality assurance and certification of items, the targeted test design and related platform functionalities, including the functionality delivered via the low/no bandwidth (LNB) solution.

A number of key school and student online readiness activities were conducted. ACARA developed items, constructed tests, provided supporting materials and undertook quality assurance testing for each event:   

  • The school readiness test (SRT) was conducted in schools between 18 August and 9 October 2019. ACARA provided omnibus tests for each year level, as well as a writing test. Over 3,100 schools across all states and territories participated in SRT.
  • The platform readiness test (PRT) was conducted in a sample of schools between 7 October and  1 November 2019 and on 27–28 February 2020 as a full end-to-end test of the platform and post-test processes, including monitoring, reporting and quality assurance. ACARA provided branching tests for all domains for all year levels. In 2020, ACARA was also responsible for quality assurance of test delivery via the low bandwidth solutions.
  • The school practice test (PT) was scheduled to occur between 17 March and 8 May 2020 in preparation for the May 2020 NAPLAN Online test event; however, as a result of the cancellation of NAPLAN tests for 2020, this event did not take place. ACARA provided omnibus tests for this event, which reflected the item types present in the NAPLAN tests.
  • Demonstration tests on the NAP website are updated annually. These demonstration tests are available publicly, providing a valuable resource for schools and parents throughout the year.

Guidance materials for all readiness and assessment events are updated each year in consultation with jurisdictions. These include the National Protocols for Test Administration as well as information for principals, school NAPLAN coordinators and test administrators.

In November–December 2019, ACARA delivered a small-scale pilot study to braille users. The aim of the pilot was to identify the feasibility of making NAPLAN Online accessible to braille users, and the extent to which this is possible. The pilot study was built on previous ACARA research into options for braille students to undertake NAPLAN as it moves online.

Feedback from the pilot study has been constructive and positive, recognising that the work is a significant and innovative step forward in a complex area.

Stakeholders have noted that this work may have a broader strategic purpose in promoting the uptake of digital technologies in schools for this group of students.

On 12 June 2020, in light of the decision not to proceed with NAPLAN in 2020 and the impacts on schooling due to COVID-19, education ministers extended the timeline for full transition to NAPLAN Online from 2021 to 2022 and agreed the current governance arrangements for NAPLAN will continue through to 2021.

  • 2019 NAPLAN summary information, national report, test incident report and technical report were all published, with individual students reports distributed to students from August 2019 onwards.
  • 2018 NAP–SL public report published in February 2020.