Creating a numeracy profile

This page takes you through the process of collecting different types of data to construct a numeracy profile for a student.

About numeracy profiles

A numeracy profile describes a student's existing numeracy knowledge and skills, their areas of need, and identifies other factors or obstacles to their learning.

The Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics provides a useful starting point for organising a student's existing knowledge and skills, using three strands:

  • Number and Algebra
  • Measurement and Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability.

Each strand has a set of substrands.

Number and algebra

  • Quantifying numbers
  • Additive strategies
  • Multiplicative strategies
  • Operating with decimals
  • Operating with percentages
  • Understanding money
  • Number patterns and algebraic thinking
  • Comparing units (ratios, rates and proportion)
  • Interpreting fractions.

Measurement and geometry

  • Understanding units of measurement
  • Understanding geometric properties
  • Positioning and locating
  • Measuring time.

Statistics and probability

  • Understanding chance
  • Interpreting and representing data.

Interpreting a student's development level

A numeracy profile is also useful for interpreting a student's development, as it specifies the expected numeracy outcomes for each domain at each year level.

For more information on how students become increasingly adept in areas of numeracy visit National Numeracy Learning Progressions. These align with the Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics and will help you to use achievement standards and content descriptions for planning, teaching, learning and assessment.

The National Numeracy Learning Progressions can be used to create an accurate picture of a student's developmental level. This is especially useful for students with learning difficulties, whose abilities may not be described precisely enough when only using content descriptors.

For some students with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, such as dyscalculia, their learning will be below Foundation standards. The Towards Foundation Level Victorian Curriculum provides this cohort of students with access to curriculum content and standards that enable them to move toward the learning described at Foundation level.

Towards Foundation Level Victorian Curriculum is integrated directly into the curriculum and is referred to as Levels A to D. These levels focus on progressing students from a pre-intentional to intentional engagement in learning. As students progress through these levels, the amount of support decreases as they proceed toward becoming independent learners.

Knowledge and skills information to include in a numeracy profile

The following sections provide guidance about what information a numeracy profile in different age ranges might include for each of the three strands.

Number and algebra

A numeracy profile for students of any age should contain information about their ability to:       

  • count, recognise, read and interpret numbers expressed in different ways, as well as the key understandings needed to process, communicate and interpret numerical information in a variety of contexts. Three basic measures that have been shown to be predictive/diagnostic in identifying maths learning difficulties and dyscalculia are:
    • number comparison
    • number line
    • dot enumeration.

    They reveal information about a student's abstract number understanding, subitising ability and their ability to relate symbolic forms of number (words, numerals) with non-symbolic forms (arrays of dots, spatial representations, such as number lines).       

  • subitising abilities and their ability to efficiently compare the approximate magnitudes of quantities, place numbers on number lines of increasing complexity (such as 1–10, 1–100, 1–1000). Deficiencies in these areas may indicate the presence of a learning disability, such as dyscalculia, which affects the understanding and learning of mathematics
  • choose, understand, and use additive computational strategies for different purposes
  • choose, understand, and use multiplicative strategies in computation, as well as their understanding of the multiplicative relationship between the quantities
  • understand the use of place value in operating with decimals and percentages in representing quantities
  • understand the face value of currency and how it differs from a place value system (the place value system of our numbers is based on 10)
  • recognise and understand patterns. This allows for the making of generalisations and, eventually, creating a foundation for algebraic thinking (thinking about generalised quantities)
  • compare units in ratios, rates, and proportions
  • understand the concept of fractions and their size. Understanding the size of a fraction is an indicator of the depth of a student's understanding of the fraction concept.

Measurement and geometry

A numeracy profile for students of any age should contain information about their ability to:       

  • recognise attributes that can be measured and how units of measure are used and calculated
  • identify the attributes of shapes and objects and how they can be combined or transformed
  • recognise the attributes of position and location, and to use positional language to describe themselves and objects in various locations
  • understand and appreciate units of time and their association with regular events, such as the rotation of the Earth.

Statistics and probability

A numeracy profile for students of any age should contain information about their ability to:       

  • use the language of chance and the numerical values of probabilities when determining the likelihood of an event
  • recognise and use visual and numerical displays to describe data associated with statistical investigations, and to critically evaluate investigations by others.

Download the Numeracy Learning Progressions map and year level tables for each strand.       


Other information to include that may explain a numeracy difficulty

It can be useful to include background information from the student's former teachers, health professionals and family. This may include information about a student's:

  • language development; the languages spoken at home, immature or delayed language development
  • communication skills in the classroom and use of language to learn
  • vision and/or hearing problems
  • social skills and ability to manage emotions or demonstrate self-control
  • ability to reason, remember, retain ideas (short-term memory)
  • medical issues that may have impacted on their readiness to learn
  • access to teaching and interventions, periods of successful learning, breaks or interruptions in the student's earlier education and extended time away from school
  • family history (of specific learning disabilities)
  • ability to think ahead and plan or maintain attention.

If you suspect a student may have, or be at risk of, a learning difficulty, it's important to raise these concerns with their family as soon as possible (after you have collected the supporting data). The family needs to be kept informed about how their child is learning, they may also have valuable insight into the cause of the difficulty their child may be experiencing.

Engagement with numeracy activities and self-efficacy

You can also include information about a student's engagement with numeracy learning and activities. Try to capture:

  • Their attitude toward doing maths in the classroom. For example, if they become anxious or frustrated when asked to solve problems in front of others or when asked a question, if they are restless or seemed bored when asked to work independently, and how they view themselves as users of numeracy and maths. Are anxieties/frustrations alleviated when manipulatives or other visual aids are provided for support?
  • The conditions that best support the student to focus their attention, as well as the types of activities that they enjoy or work best during (for example, project-based learning, group work, one-on-one instruction).
  • How the student views numeracy (whether they consider maths important). This may also include how they feel about numeracy subjects and if they see these as relevant.