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When NAPLAN results are sent home from schools across Australia, there may be celebrations in your home or some cause for concern. There have been reports around dropping and stagnant national standards in literacy and numeracy and no doubt this will continue, but for now your focus is just on the envelope from school your child has brought home.

Overall NAPLAN Results

There are a couple of scenarios here:

Above national and school average performance

Congratulations. Your child is performing beyond expectations for his or her grade at their school and in schools across the country. They have developed great test taking skills and have demonstrated great capacity in working under timed and potentially stressful conditions. It is time for some celebrations in your home, an acknowledgement of the wonderful NAPLAN result and effort applied to achieve this.

Above national but below school average performance

There is still much to celebrate here. Your child is performing very well, above that of their peers in schools across the country, however perhaps not as strong as their peers within the school environment. This can happen at a very high performing school and you will need to carefully consider whether assistance is needed to help your already achieving child “keep up” with their school peers. Tutoring assistance will continue to perpetuate this cycle for your child. Assistance from an Educational Specialist or some further assistance should be considered.

Above school average but below national average

This is a situation that requires some delicate discussions with your child’s school. Something has gone awry. Perhaps there has been something lacking in the overall school program or a curriculum glitch. Ultimately the decision needs to be made about whether this is the best place for your child.

This result indicates your child is performing well alongside the national average, but if your child’s school overall isn’t doing the same you will want to know there is a change underway at your child’s school.  Assistance from an Educational Specialist or some further assistance should be considered. 

Below average performance both nationally and within the school

This NAPLAN result can be very deflating for you and your child. You will have been working very hard towards this result and it is disappointing for you both. You can try to deprioritise the result and indicate it doesn’t mean much, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is there. Honesty is by far the best policy, it is what it is and it’s OK to be disappointed and the only thing to do is move on.

Try to work with your child to identify the aspects that were more successful than others and select one area to improve on for the next period of time. Assistance from an Educational Specialist or some further assistance should be considered. 

What was my child tested on?


The reading section of the NAPLAN is a comprehension task that aims to assess reading, vocabulary and strategies. This part of the exam relies on accurate and fluent reading, your child needs to be able to read words correctly and relatively quickly in order to get through the whole paper. There is a huge amount of reading and each passage has only a handful of questions before your child needs to move onto the next passage about something entirely different.



Students are asked to create a narrative or story, a piece of persuasive text.  It is important to know that there is a rubric or criteria for scoring the writing section of the NAPLAN, which focuses on the very small details of the writing process – punctuation, grammar, word usage, word order – basically, sentence construction. Children can score very well by writing a few wonderful sentences or score really poorly by composing a long and interesting story with spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary errors.

Language Conventions: Grammar & Punctuation and Spelling

The grammar and punctuation section of the NAPLAN test identifies children who can easily answer multiple choice questions and are skilled at labelling grammatical concepts. When you think about a spelling test you probably think about a teacher saying a word aloud, possibly in the context of a sentence to help with meaning and then your child writing down the letters to match the sounds they hear. The spelling section of the NAPLAN paper isn’t like this. Your child was presented with a word spelt incorrectly and the provided with several options in a multiple choice format to correctly identify the correctly spelt word. Or they were asked to identify the incorrect word in a sentence and then correct this. These are important skills to have and is needed for proof reading work after writing a piece of text. However, it is a difficult task because your child needed to correctly say the word in their head before attempting to spell this – we ask them to pay attention to the sounds in words all the time but remove this assistance during the NAPLAN test.


The Numeracy test focuses on high level applications of mathematics in a range of skills. Essentially, there is a bit of everything your child should have covered in the syllabus in the one paper. These questions are predominantly worded, embedding the numbers into a problem to be solved. This is always the outcome of mathematics instruction – to use mathematics in real life. How much paint do I need to buy? Which is the best mobile phone plan to sign up to? By what time do I need to leave to arrive to my meeting of time? It can be difficult to identify whether your child had trouble with the actual numbers (mathematics) or in reading and understanding the problem.

Where to from here?


If your child’s NAPLAN results indicate that they have performed poorly in the reading section, then you should focus on reading instruction from an experienced education specialist. They should consider two aspects of reading: (a) fluency, being able to read words correctly and quickly, and (b) comprehension, being able to recall and understand the meaning of the text.


If your child has received poor results in the writing section of the NAPLAN, then you should firstly consider the feedback from school about writing and any of your own observations. If you are concerned about your child’s ability to construct well written sentences and texts consider working with an experienced education specialist or a speech pathologist to develop improved vocabulary and written expression.

Language Conventions: Grammar & Punctuation and Spelling

If your child has also performed poorly in the language conventions section, then you should focus on spelling instruction from an experienced education specialist to consider why spelling is difficult – does your child know the letters and sounds of the alphabet, stretch and blend sounds in words and know common spelling patterns? Proof-reading and correct grammar usage should be included in any writing intervention being implemented and is not recommended to be taught in isolation.


If your child has also performed poorly in the reading section of the NAPLAN, which is a comprehension task reliant on reading, vocabulary and strategies, then you should focus on reading instruction from an experienced education specialist.

If your child has performed well in the reading section, then the focus should be on mathematics instruction from an experienced education specialist in both number work and problem solving strategies.

What to do after receiving your child’s NAPLAN results

  • Speak to your child’s school about what they think needs to be done. They will have a plan and strategies and you need to decide whether that is sufficient for your child or you need more.
  • Consider the results and their consistency to other school reports and your observations. If they don’t make sense, then they may not be a true reflection of your child (they were just a couple of hours in the scheme of things)
  • Seek help from an experienced education specialist. This can simply be an opportunity to review what you are currently doing or begin to receive some support.
  • Be wary of services or professionals promising cures, requesting large upfront payments, reliance on textbooks and programs with limited flexibility … if it doesn’t sound right, then it probably isn’t.


How can Learning Links help?

Specialist Tutoring

If you are worried about your child’s reading, writing or maths, our qualified teachers specialise in difficulties with learning. They can help identify where the problems lie and put together a program to help your child build their skills in those areas.

Find out more about our Educational Support program here.


If your child is having significant challenges in one or more area, an educational psychology assessment may help to identify their learning styles, strengths and needs. An assessment can also help to diagnose any specific learning difficulties or disabilities that may impact their learning.

Find out more about our Psychological Assessments here.