In July 2006, the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) determined that national testing in literacy and numeracy would proceed for the full cohort of students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 from 2008 onward. Consequently the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) commenced across Australia in 2008.

NAPLAN results are reported using five scales, one for each of the following: Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation, and Numeracy. These reporting scales apply to each of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 and are accompanied by descriptions of the skills and understandings typical of students at various proficiency levels along each scale.

Each of the five NAPLAN reporting scales measures student achievement from Year 3 through to Year 9. The NAPLAN scales are constructed so that any given score will represent the same level of achievement within a domain over time. For example, a scaled score of 700 in Reading will have the same meaning in 2009 as it did in 2008. This enables changes in literacy and numeracy achievement to be monitored and compared over time.

Scaled scores between domains should not be compared as each domain represents different skills. For example, if a student has a scaled score of 640 in Reading and 600 in Writing, this does not necessarily indicate a higher level of ability in Reading compared to Writing, as different skills were assessed in each domain.

The use of a common scale that spans Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 allows both the status of, and growth in, student achievement to be monitored and reported across the years of schooling from Year 3 to Year 9. The reporting scales are divided into ten bands to cover the full range of student achievement observed in the tests, mapping the increasing complexity of the skills assessed by NAPLAN.

Six of these bands are utilised for reporting student performance at each year level:

  • Year 3 reports show Bands 1 to 6;
  • Year 5 reports show Bands 3 to 8;
  • Year 7 reports show Bands 4 to 9;
  • Year 9 reports show Bands 5 to 10.

For each year level and for each domain in literacy and numeracy the National Minimum Standard is defined and located on the common underlying scale. For Year 3, Band 2 is the National Minimum Standard, for Year 5, Band 4 is the National Minimum Standard, for Year 7, Band 5 is the National Minimum Standard and for Year 9, Band 6 is the National Minimum Standard. Students with results in the band representing the National Minimum Standard have typically demonstrated the basic elements of reading, language conventions, writing and numeracy for that year level.