Spelling, numeracy declines among NAPLAN 2022 results

“Overall, for a second year in a row, the national level results have defied predictions of drastic falls in performance related to COVID,” ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, said.

The 2022 NAPLAN National Report findings are mostly stable at a national level from 2021 to 2022, apart from a decrease in Year 5 numeracy and Year 9 spelling.

When looking at average scores, most long-term trends since 2008 either show steady progress, particularly in primary years, or are stable. The exception is Year 9 spelling, where increases in the early years of NAPLAN are reversing.

Over the long term, writing results – which, as recently reported, had been in decline up to 2018 – are turning around, showing an upward trend for Years 5, 7 and 9 since 2019. “This suggests that the efforts being made by schools and teachers, in response to those earlier warning signs, are paying off,” Mr de Carvalho said.

Despite the decline this year in Year 5 numeracy, the long-term trend is positive. Steady rises in Years 3 and 5 reading, and Years 3, 5 and 7 spelling have also continued.

“Aside from numeracy, the Year 5 results are pleasing as 2022 was the first year this cohort sat their NAPLAN tests, following the cancellation of NAPLAN in 2020. It will be important to track whether this cohort’s lower numeracy achievement affects their results in Years 7 and 9.

“In the year-to-year data from 2021 to 2022, an increase in writing results for Year 9 Indigenous students and students from a language background other than English are welcome. There was also an increase in grammar and punctuation results for Indigenous students in Year 7,” Mr de Carvalho said. “While these results are just for one year, it’s hoped this signals the start of longer-term trends.”

2022 was the first year all schools took the test online. A record 4.3 million online tests were submitted by more than 1.2 million students in 9,315 campuses and schools across Australia. This year’s NAPLAN coincided with the peak impact of the COVID isolation requirements in some states/territories.

When looking at the National Minimum Standard (NMS), the percentage of Year 9 boys achieving the NMS in reading has fallen to its lowest level, below 90 per cent, with 13.5 per cent not achieving the NMS this year, compared to fewer than 8.5 per cent in 2008. “It is certainly concerning that we have so many students who are not demonstrating the capacity to read at this basic level only a few years before they leave school,” Mr de Carvalho said.

Preliminary NAPLAN 2022 results were not released in August, as they have been in previous years, as closer analysis of the data was required due to lower than usual participation rates.

Participation rates have been slowly falling since the start of NAPLAN; however, the decline this year was greater than the long-term rate. “This issue is of concern, as low participation rates can impact results analysis and the ability to get a clear picture of literacy and numeracy achievement at the national level,” Mr de Carvalho said.

Test incidents

Of the approximately 4.7 million NAPLAN tests sat by students, there was a total of 48 substantiated aggregated incidents in 2022, of which one was cheating, 8 were security breaches and 39 were “general breaches”. There were 65 substantiated aggregated incidents in 2021 and 88 in 2019. The number of reported test incidents is extremely small.

2023 NAPLAN plans

From 2023, NAPLAN tests will be held in Term One, allowing results to be returned to systems, schools and parents earlier in the year.

The NAPLAN National Report provides nationally comparable data on the 2022 national and state/territory results for each test domain and year level assessed, and for each level by gender, Indigenous status and language background other than English.

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