NAPLAN testing provides mixed results for Qld school students

Students across Australia are struggling to meet the national minimum standard for writing, especially in Queensland, it has been revealed.

Preliminary NAPLAN results, released today by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), found that there’s been a steady improvement in numeracy, reading, spelling and grammar over the last decade.

However, the writing test results in Years 5, 7 and 9 were significantly below those observed in the base year in 2011.


Queensland saw one of the biggest increases in students failing to meet the minimum standard for writing, with the number of year 7 students unable to meet the benchmark increasing from just 8.4% in 2011 to 16.3% in 2018.

It was even worse for those in year 9, with the results revealing more than a quarter of students failed to meet the minimum writing standard – increasing from 15% in 2011 up to 26% this year.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said it wasn’t just the sunshine state who saw poor results in writing.

“Let me be clear, this isn’t just a problem for Queensland – all states and territories have declined in writing again,” she said.

“We need to work out why we’re seeing this ongoing, nationwide decline and what we can do to arrest and reverse it.

“This is another good reason why my ongoing calls for a national, comprehensive review are warranted, particularly in the area of writing.”

From 2020, the entire NAPLAN testing will be moved from paper to online, with around 20 per cent of students trialing NAPLAN online this year.

Interestingly, Year 9 students who completed the writing test online did, on average, better than those who completed the writing test in pencil.

ACARA said the results were “comparable”, however the difference “appears to be a result of the test mode.”

“The difference may be due to students at this year level having greater confidence writing online than on paper, as well as students’ ability to readily review and edit their work online in a way that is not possible with a paper test,” they said.

“This reinforces the benefit of moving to NAPLAN Online, which will give teachers, students and parents more information about what students know and can do, and where additional support is needed.”

The NAPLAN summary results issued today include combined data for online and paper student cohorts.