A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s NAPLAN Results

NAPLAN results will be released throughout Australia from mid-August to mid-September. The national report will be released in December providing detailed information for each year level, including gender, location, Indigenous status and parental income. A preliminary report will be available in August.

NAPLAN results are used by schools and teachers to determine how students are progressing compared to previous years. The data helps them identify gaps in knowledge, build on strengths and pinpoint students who are struggling or may need more challenging work. 

These results are also helpful for parents as they provide insight into their student’s progress as well as the school’s performance. To interpret your child’s report, it’s helpful to understand how the scales are applied.

Understanding Scaling

The learning domains tested in NAPLAN are reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. Each test scale is divided into ten bands, and 6 bands are reported on for each year.

  • Year 3 mapped on bands 1–6
  • Year 5 mapped on bands 3–8
  • Year 7 mapped on bands 4–9
  • Year 9 mapped on bands 5–10

Each year group moves up a step on the scale to show the increase in difficulty and skill level required. The scale is used across all year groups to allow teachers and parents to compare results from previous years and against the national average. 

The national minimum standard for each year is represented by the second lowest band. For example, in Year 3 band 2 represents the minimum standard needed to participate at this level.

According to the NAPLAN website: 

The NAPLAN scales are constructed so that any given score represents the same level of achievement over time. For example, a score of 700 in reading will have the same meaning in 2012 as in 2010. This enables changes in literacy and numeracy achievements to be monitored over time.

Individual reports map a student’s result as a black dot against the bands. The school’s average result is mapped as a clear triangle, while the national result is a solid triangle. The area where 60% of students fall is shaded to provide a simple visual representation of where your student sits in comparison to others.

 Things to Remember

  • While NAPLAN can provide useful information for individuals, it was designed to provide an overall view of skills and knowledge at the national level.
  • Teachers stress that NAPLAN is a snapshot of how a child is performing on a single day. It cannot replace school-based reporting. 
  • Experts claim the limited number of questions in each area means there is a possibility of measurement error.
  • While the same scale is used for all domains, the results are not comparable. A score of 602 on a read test represents a different level of skill to the same score in numeracy.
  • When comparing results across schools, keep in mind that wealthier schools perform better due to a range of factors such as opportunity, better facilities and more access to support services.
  • It is not a competition between schools. One of the goals of NAPLAN is to close the gap between schools by identifying what strategies and teaching methods are most effective.

If you’re concerned about your child’s results or there is a significant discrepancy between their school reports and the NAPLAN report, the first step is to discuss your concerns with teachers.

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