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This paper looks to 'the past', to the watershed of Australia's first National Literacy Plan (Australian Education Council, 1994) and National Numeracy Plan (Australian Education Council, 1994); to the present (reported National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data and evidence about literacy gains), and 'forward', to possible futures for young people's literacy education and the prospective experience of literacy testing in Australia. The discussion situates NAPLAN in its historical context, recognising how it emerged from different approaches to state based testing of literacy and numeracy. Against this background we examine the 2015 NAPLAN writing data to reveal increasing numbers of students who are achieving below the national minimum standard in the domain of writing. Finally we call for a sharpened focus on 'writing standards as benchmarks' in NAPLAN and how these relate to 'achievement standards' in the Australian Curriculum. We also argue for an increased emphasis on teachers' criterial knowledge, essential for the teaching and assessment of writing. Such moves would go some way to realising the potential of NAPLAN for evidence informed policy for achieving real educational improvement


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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