ACARA news, September 2017

Schools and students give NAPLAN online a thumbs up

19 September 2017

Over the past five weeks, schools across Australia have been participating in school readiness testing to prepare for the move to NAPLAN Online. School readiness testing finishes this week with teachers, schools and students generally finding the online experience a positive one.          

“Across the country schools have participated in school readiness testing as part of the preparation to move NAPLAN online from next year,” said ACARA’s General Manager of Assessment and Reporting, Dr Stanley Rabinowitz.

“School readiness testing aims to ensure schools are ready for NAPLAN Online, that they have sufficient bandwidth and connectivity, and can become familiar with the online test and administration processes.”

In NSW alone, 2,500 schools participated in the readiness tests in the past five weeks. Results from a survey of those taking part showed that schools felt students were more engaged with the online tests compared to pen-and-paper assessments. In NSW, with over 460,000 tests having been completed, feedback over the past five weeks has shown:

  • 76 per cent of students liked doing the test online
  • 87 per cent of schools indicated a level of confidence to transition to NAPLAN Online.

“Feedback so far has shown that schools and students have found the readiness test a useful and engaging experience,” said Dr Jenny Donovan, Executive Director, NSW Department of Education.

The aim of the school readiness testing was also to identify issues to be addressed to ensure schools will be ready for NAPLAN Online.

“We will be following up to address problems or issue to ensure schools are ready before they transition to NAPLAN Online,” said Dr Donovan.

State and territory education authorities will use the outcome of the school readiness testing, and the experience of those schools to assess when schools will transition to NAPLAN Online.

“The point of the readiness testing has been to identify issues requiring action and support to ensure schools will be ready. The two to three-year transition period ensures all schools have the time to build capacity and be ready,” said Dr Rabinowitz. “Alternate technology and low bandwidth solutions are also being tested for use in remote and rural areas, to address any internet connectivity issues.”

“All education ministers have agreed to take NAPLAN online because of the advantages of online testing. The benefits include faster return of results – within weeks instead of several months, a better assessment thanks to tailored testing, and more precise results.” 

Significant planning, development, research and trialling have been ongoing since 2012 to support the move to NAPLAN Online. ACARA and Education Services Australia continue to work with the Australian Government and all states and territories on planning, research and development activities required for the transition to NAPLAN Online.

ACARA’s media line: 0414 063 872 or

Statement in relation to AEU correspondence with ministers

07 September 2017

Federal, state and territory education ministers have agreed that NAPLAN will move online over a two–three-year transition period.

The benefits of moving to NAPLAN Online include: better assessment; faster turnaround of results to teachers and parents; more precise measurement of student ability; and a test that is more engaging for students.

We all share a focus on what is best for students. ACARA is happy to work with all stakeholders on addressing any concerns raised to ensure moving NAPLAN online is a success.

Access to computers, technical readiness of schools and resourcing

The purpose of school readiness testing is to make sure each school is ready to support NAPLAN Online. ACARA is responsible for ensuring the online test is ready, and Education Services Australia is contracted by the federal government to ensure the online assessment platform is ready. Implementation is a matter for state/territory education authorities. Readiness testing provides valuable feedback to these authorities about their technical readiness. 

The two-to-three year transition period ensures all schools have the time to build technical capacity to manage NAPLAN Online. 

The test window has been extended from three days to two weeks allowing schools to participate with the number of devices they have available.

Arrangements are being tested for application in remote and/or rural areas where stable internet connections may be an issue, including alternate technology and low bandwidth solutions to ensure students can take the tests without the need for a stable internet connection.

Automated essay scoring

Multiple studies show that automated scoring of writing is as reliable as human markers in marking NAPLAN writing. For added reassurance in 2018,  NAPLAN Online writing tests will be double-marked, by both the automated system and human markers, with any differences resolved by a human marker.

Automated essay scoring enables faster turnaround of results, allowing the results to get back to students, parents and teachers within weeks instead of months. This will help teachers and schools to respond to identified student learning needs more quickly.

‘Teaching to the test'

NAPLAN Online is not a test of proficiency with technology. Using ICT and becoming familiar with using devices are part of a student’s everyday learning and a requirement of the Australian Curriculum. The NAPLAN Online demonstration site ensures all students can practice on the types of items that will appear on the test.



ACARA's new corporate plan published

04 September 2017

On 31 August, ACARA published its 2017–18 corporate plan, which sets the ACARA's purposes and performance measures for the 2017–18 year as well as authority's responsibilities and priorities for the next four years.

The document contains an overview by the ACARA Chair, Steven Schwartz, and details ACARA's operating principles, working environment, capabilities, risk oversight and accountability.

ACARA is required to publish a rolling four-year corporate plan by 31 August each year, in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Visit the 'Publications' page of this website to view the ACARA Corporate Plan 2017–18.