Online assessment research

Since 2012, ACARA has conducted a broad research and development program to inform work towards the transition from paper-based to computer-based assessments. The purpose of these studies has been to build a new assessment model and provide evidence-based information to education ministers and the broader education community about delivering NAPLAN in a computer-based, or ‘online’, environment.

For more information about ACARA's research into online assessment, please contact: [email protected]


Research studies

ACARA‘s research program has delivered a number of studies designed to ensure technical and content readiness for NAPLAN Online. These studies have focused on the branched adaptive test (the ‘tailored test design’), a feature of NAPLAN Online.

In the tailored test design, students answer an initial set of questions and are then directed to the subsequent sets of questions based on the accuracy of their responses. Students with a high number of correct responses are directed to more challenging questions. Students who have a lower level of achievement in the initial set of questions are directed to questions that are less challenging. Results from trialling show that the tailored test provides better assessment of individual student achievement relative to ability.

ACARA has collected both quantitative and qualitative data by investigating the cognitive and behavioural engagement of students with the tailored test and the effectiveness of the proposed test design in better targeting underperforming students.

ACARA’s research has also investigated autoscoring technology and technically enhanced items that are designed to assess particular aspects of literacy and numeracy aligned with the Australian Curriculum.

Research has also been conducted into adjustments for students with disability.

For further information about these aspects and to access published research reports, visit the NAP website: