National numeracy tests: A graphic tells a thousand words

Thomas LOWRIE, Carmel Diezmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Mandatory numeracy tests have become commonplace in many countries, heralding a new era in school assessment. New forms of accountability and an increased emphasis on national and international standards (and benchmarks) have the potential to reshape mathematics curricula. It is noteworthy that the mathematics items used in these tests are rich in graphics. Many of the items, for example, require students to have an understanding of information graphics (e.g., maps, charts and graphs) in order to solve the tasks. This investigation classifies mathematics items in Australia’s inaugural national numeracy tests and considers the effect such standardised testing will have on practice. It is argued that the design of mathematics items are more likely to be a reliable indication of student performance if graphical, linguistic and contextual components are considered both in isolation and in integrated ways as essential elements of task design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-158
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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