National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012

Part 5

Student achievement – National Assessment Program


The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians identifies literacy and numeracy and the knowledge of key disciplines as the cornerstones of schooling. Goal 2 is that ‘All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens’. Having the ‘essential skills in literacy and numeracy’ is among the attributes of successful learners listed under this goal.

The declaration commits all Australian governments to work with all school sectors and the broader community to achieve the educational goals for young Australians. As part of the commitment to promote world-class curriculum and assessment, Ministers agreed that ‘together the national curriculum and curriculum specified at the State, Territory and local levels will … include a strong focus on literacy and numeracy skills’.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Education Agreement also articulates high-level policy and reform directions for measuring and improving the literacy and numeracy achievement of young people. As part of its commitment to ensuring that young people are meeting basic literacy and numeracy standards, in 2008 COAG agreed to the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership, which was implemented over the period 2009–12.

The Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012 defines the national key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling arising from the Melbourne Declaration goals and commitment to action and reflecting COAG targets and indicators.1 These include measures of student achievement in the National Assessment Program (NAP) in literacy, numeracy, science literacy, civics and citizenship, and information and communication technology literacy. The Measurement Framework also specifies the annual assessment and reporting cycle for the National Assessment Program.

The National Assessment Program

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is directed, through its charter, to manage the development and oversee the delivery, of assessments and reporting for the National Assessment Program (NAP) including the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), and domestic NAP sample assessments as directed by the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC). The NAP also includes Australia’s participation in international assessments.

The NAP, as specified in the Measurement Framework, encompasses all assessments endorsed by Education Ministers:

  • annual full student cohort literacy and numeracy assessments in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 (NAPLAN)
  • triennial domestic sample student population assessments in science literacy (Year 6), information and communication technology literacy (Years 6 and 10) and civics and citizenship (Years 6 and 10) (to 2015)
  • participation in international sample student population assessments, including the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). PISA is conducted every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and assesses the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy of a sample of 15-year-old students. TIMSS is conducted every four years by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and assesses performance of a sample of Year 4 and Year 8 students in mathematics and science.

NAP assessments conducted for 2012 were:

ACARA publishes nationally comparable information on student achievement in national assessments to support accountability, policy development and resource allocation. NAPLAN National Reports for each year summarise student achievement in NAPLAN at the national, state and territory, and student subgroup levels. These are published on ACARA’s National Assessment Program website. The website also allows users to specify and download tables from its results page. Student achievement in NAPLAN is reported at the school level on the My School website.

Reports on each three-yearly NAP sample assessment are also published on the National Assessment Program website.

The national report for PISA 2012 is available on the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) website. The most recent TIMSS testing of Australian students was in late 2010, for TIMSS 2011. The international and Australian reports were released in December 2012. Key performance measures for TIMSS 2011 were reported in the National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011.


¹Relationships between the Melbourne Declaration, the NEA and the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia are more fully explained in Part 1.2: Measuring performance.