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Rapid decline and gender disparities in the NAPLAN writing data


Thomas, DP, Rapid decline and gender disparities in the NAPLAN writing data, The Australian Educational Researcher, 47, (5) pp. 777-796. ISSN 2210-5328 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2019

DOI: doi:10.1007/s13384-019-00366-8


The rapid decline in Australian students’ performance on the National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) writing test is an issue of national concern. This paper presents the frst investigation into patterns of achievement and progress on the NAPLAN writing test across the tested year levels (3, 5, 7 and 9) between 2011 and 2018, with a focus on gender diferences. The fndings reveal a considerable decline in writing performance for both genders over time, with a major disparity of up to 2 years of learning in test outcomes between male and female students. While performance of girls exceeded year-level standards when averaged over the 8 years, the average performance of boys was consistently below standards, with male students falling further behind female students across the school years. Yet average scores for both genders have declined signifcantly since 2011. Drawing on current international research into the teaching of writing and standardised writing tests, the paper considers two possible causes for this decline which are often communicated by education stakeholders: inefective writing instruction, and issues with the design and implementation of the NAPLAN writing test. The paper calls for a national conversation about how we might efectively teach and assess writing

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:NAPLAN, writing instruction, standardised assessment
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:English and literacy curriculum and pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Pedagogy
UTAS Author:Thomas, DP (Dr Damon Thomas)
ID Code:136507
Year Published:2020 (online first 2019)
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2020-01-03
Last Modified:2022-10-05

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