The Australian Twin-Study of the NAPLAN


NAPLAN logoThis project grasps a unique opportunity to undertake the first longitudinal study of the genetic and environmental influences on variability in the NAPLAN scores (National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy, assessed at grades 3, 5, 7 and 9).

These NAPLAN tests are designed by educational authorities, are objective, and have been administered Australia-wide since 2008, so are a valuable national database on school achievement.  Our twin studies of this data will provide a more solid base for public policy debates on educational policy and practice.

We will also collect a range of environmental measures allowing scrutiny of how they interact with genes to predict NAPLAN scores.  For instance, the twins' health, behaviour, hours of homework, tutoring, internet use/access, teachers, and the home literacy/numeracy environment.

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Why Twins?

Twin studies can help us find out more about the influence of genes and the environment on school achievement:

Using Twins to Better Understand School Achievement Using Twins to Better Understand School Achievement

 Australian NAPLAN results Other findings Australian NAPLAN results Other findings

Are you a twin or a parent of twins?Twins

Who is eligible?
All twins and their siblings who complete the NAPLAN are eligible. So if they sat or will sit the NAPLAN between 2008 and 2017, irrespective of whether this was in grade 3, 5, 7 or 9, they are eligible.

What does the study entail?

  • Primarily, we need parental permission for us to access, confidentially of course, your twins' NAPLAN scores from the state departments that store this data.
  • Separately to this we ask parents to complete questionnaires about the home environment and the behaviours and habits of each child. These questionnaires take about one hour in total to complete.

To be involved:

Twins and their families have been invited to participate in the study by the Australian Twin Registry. Visit the Australian Twin Registry website to find out more about this organisation: .

Currently 2518 families have agreed to participate in the research. This number is expected to grow as another round of recruitment takes place in early 2016.

Data will be collected in each year of the project's duration from 2012 to 2017.

If you would like to be involved, please email to express your interest, and we will ask the ATR to contact you in the next round of recruitment.

Funding and Staff:

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). In November 2014 the project was awarded an ARC Discovery Project grant to continue the study from 2015 to 2017.

Staff on the project includes:

  • Dr William Coventry – Psychology, University of New England,
  • Professor Brian Byrne – Psychology, University of New England,
  • Professor Richard Olson – Psychology, University of Colorado,
  • Ms Katrina Grasby – QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, QLD.
  • Mrs Sally Larsen, Project Manager – Psychology, University of New England.


In November 2014, Dr William Coventry was invited to speak to Kelly Fuller about the project on ABC Radio. Listen to the podcast here:

Australian Twin RegistryIn October 2013 researcher Professor Brian Byrne was invited by the Australian Twin Registry to present some of the findings of his research to the International Patron of the Australian Twin Registry Crown Princess Mary and to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

See a video of the event here: Princess Mary Visit