Mathematics and numeracy assessment

Assessment in mathematics and numeracy is more than forming judgements about a learner’s ability. It monitors the learner’s understanding of the mathematical language, concepts and skills and what they need to do to succeed.

This requires:

  • an understanding of how learning develops
  • what skills and knowledge learners need to progress
  • the common misunderstandings that can delay learning.

Scaffolding student learning in mathematics is the primary task of teachers.

Teachers need accurate information about what each student already knows and with support, what might be within the student’s grasp.

Assessment tools

Using assessment tools and techniques that show student thinking requires:

  • an understanding what different student responses might mean
  • practical ideas to address the learning needs identified.

School based assessment may also contribute to building a clear picture of the learner. Examples of assessment in mathematics and numeracy include:

  • feedback and reflection
  • student self-assessments
  • student portfolios
  • validated tools
  • anecdotal evidence
  • teacher moderated student assessment tasks
  • student self-reflections, interests and surveys.

Numeracy learning progressions

The Victorian Numeracy Learning Progressions outline a sequence of observable indicators of increasingly sophisticated understanding and skills in 15 key numeracy concepts.

The progressions:

  • give teachers a clear view of numeracy learning
  • help facilitate professional learning in numeracy development in schools.

The numeracy learning progressions are not a curriculum.  Refer to the Victorian Curriculum: Mathematics for content descriptions and achievement standards.

Each learning progression has a series of developmental steps provided in a span. Each step illustrates an observable progression of learning. For example, quantifying numbers has 12 steps in a span from Foundation to Level 6, while operating with decimals has four steps in a span from Level 4 to Level 7.

To support teachers to understand and use the numeracy learning progressions, each progression has been mapped to the Victorian Curriculum F – 10: Mathematics Continuum. Each row shows the number of steps in the learning progression and how they relate to each level. For numeracy, the subheading of each step has also been included to support teacher use.


Assessment theory and practice within the teaching and learning cycle

Guidance and advice for high-quality assessment practices. Provides teachers with specific information to target the learning needs of students.

  • Assessment in principle - promotes further learning and achievement when the practitioner works collaboratively with the learner, the learner’s family, peers and colleagues to plan the learning program.
  • Assessment in practice - teaching and learning practices integrate ongoing assessment and feedback with high quality instructional practice.
  • Effective assessment – provides evidence for the practitioner to make decisions about the next steps in the learning program.
  • Feedback and reporting - determines a learner's level of understanding and skill development in order to plan the next steps towards achieving the learning intentions or goals.
  • Analysing and using data - including learners in the analysis of their assessment results which encourages them to take ownership of their learning and to set and achieve their own learning intentions.

Insight assessment platform

The Insight Assessment Platform is aimed at helping teacher assess the progress of all learners and support more targeted teaching practices. This online platform can be accessed by teachers in government schools.

Resources, supports and tools, on the platform support high quality assessment practices and provide teachers with information they can use to target the learning needs of students as they progress along the learning continuum.

Scaffolding numeracy in the middle years

The Scaffolding Numeracy in the Middle Years (SNMY) resource allows practitioners to access assessment materials, the Learning and Assessment Framework for Multiplicative Thinking (LAF), learning plans, authentic tasks and research findings from the project that investigated a new assessment-guided approach to improving student numeracy outcomes in Years 4 to 8.

Learning and assessment framework for multiplicative thinking

The Learning and Assessment Framework for Multiplicative Thinking (LAF) was developed on the basis of research conducted through the SNMY project. The LAF helps bring together all of the key ideas, strategies and representations of multiplication and division needed to work confidently with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percent across a wide range of contexts. It's linked to the rich assessment tasks used to evaluate multiplicative thinking and contains explicit advice on teaching implications.

Assessment for common misunderstandings

The Assessment for Common Misunderstandings (ACM) tools are based on series of research-based Probe Tasks which were developed for teaching purposes to identify learning needs in Number. The Probe Task Manual includes a number of tasks and resources which are organised to address common misunderstandings.

Additional resources

  • VCAA On Demand Testing - Mathematics - resources in which tests are designed to link the curriculum and standards. The tests deliver sets of questions to students that vary according to student ability.
  • VCAA Guide to Formative Assessment - Worked example: Numeracy - advice to teachers about how to develop formative assessment rubrics linked to the Victorian Curriculum F – 10.
  • NAPLAN - Numeracy- annual assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. NAPLAN assesses student knowledge and skills in numeracy, reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  • For information on NAPLAN Data Service, NAPLAN online, test timetable, sample test materials, publications, forms and general information for schools and parents, see: About NAPLAN.