Michelle Davidson

BEd(Distinction)(UNSW), MEd(Merit)(Sydney)

Honorary Associate Lecturer


Phone: 041711 6845

Fax: +61 2 9351 5027

Building.Room: A35.

Research interests

Learning sciences; psychology of education

  • Assessment and evaluation


assessessment, data literacy

Professional biography

Ms Davidson has managed the item development activities for most of the large scale, state-based testing programs across Australia during the last 20 years. She coordinated the construction of numeracy tests for Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9 for the National Assessment Project. She coordinated the National Grammar Punctuation and Spelling assessments for the 2006 NAPLAN trial testing program.  In addition, Ms Davidson wrote and reviewed items for these projects. Recently Ms Davidson coordinated item development for Enterprising Minds for the 2013 and 2014 rounds of NAPLAN.

Michelle has extensive experience in constructing a range of Literacy and Numeracy materials in her role as Test Development Manager for ACER and prior to that as the Principal Research Officer at the Educational Testing Centre, UNSW. Ms Davidson has coordinated the development of previous statewide assessment projects in SOSE and led the development of the Western Australian Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (WALNA) project. She managed the National Civics and Citizenship survey conducted in 2000.

Ms Davidson has constructed a range of multiple choice, extended response and checklist type items for many projects. She has written items for state-wide assessment projects in Reading, Language Conventions, Numeracy, SOSE, as well as in innovative Curriculum Assessment areas such as Civics and Citizenship. Ms Davidson has written items and managed overall assessment programs for students from below Year 3 benchmark level to university matriculation level.

She has managed and written items for a number of international projects including for projects in the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, China, India, and New Zealand.

Ms Davidson has experience in item development for projects assessing value adding in intervention programs (for example Ramp Up – for the United States No Child Left Behind Program). She has developed assessment programs specifically for Indigenous Students (AimHi Project, New Zealand) as well as the construction of bilingual assessment instruments for use in culturally diverse jurisdictions (United Arab Emirates, India and China). She also has extensive experience in in-servicing teaching personnel in item development and test construction both in Australia and overseas.

Major Assessment Projects

  • NAPLAN Online Development Study (2014): Cognitive interviews research activity “Perceived difficulty of challenging Reading items”.

  • NAPLAN Online (NASOP) (2013) Development of a suite of reading assessment items for Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9 for delivery in a trial online format as part of a research project conducted by ACARA in Reading.

  • NAPLAN Reading Items (2012) Development of a suite of Reading Items for use in NAPLAN 2013.

  • Abu Dhabi Education Council (2007 - 2010) Development of national suite of single level assessment for Grades 3 to 12, in English, Mathematics, Science and Arabic. Assessments were delivered in English and Arabic. This was the first major system-wide testing program in the UAE.

  • NAPLAN - Reading (2008) A team of item developers from across Australia developed a suite of numeracy items for the 2008 trial NAPLAN assessments.

  • NAPLAN - Numeracy (2007, 2013) Item development and coordination of contracted item development team.

  • NSW Corrective Services Selection Materials (2005) Development of a suite of assessment materials - literacy and numeracy -- for selection of Corrective Services personnel.

  • South Australia Literacy and Numeracy Project (2005) Responsible for the development of literacy and numeracy state-wide assessment papers for Grades 3, 5 and 7.

  • Western Australian Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Project (2003) Development of suite of literacy and numeracy state-wide assessment for Grades 3, 5 and 7.

  • I+Achieve an innovative online assessment program in Literacy, Numeracy and Science

  • Australian Schools’ English Competition (now ICAS)  (1993 - 1999)  - design, construction, analysis and evaluation of literacy assessment tasks for Year 3 - 12.

  • Victorian (AIM) English Assessment Project Years 3 and 5 (1995-1999) Years 3, 5 and 7 (2000)

  • Victoria - (AIM) Society and Environment Assessment Project  (1996)

  • Western Australian Literacy Assessment Years 3 and 5  (1998-1999) Years 3, 5 and 7 (2000)

  • Queensland Literacy Assessment Project Years 3 and 5 (1996)

  • Australian Capital Territory Literacy & Numeracy Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 (2001)

  • Pearson Test of English (2009 - 2011) provision of item contract services. Career History


Current projects

  • Identifying potential modules in the areas of assessment for professional development of teachers; Development of content NESA accredited Data Literacy modules; Assessment and educational measurement research; Qualitative research on data literacy with teachers and academics

Selected publications

Book chapters

  • Tognolini, J., Davidson, M. (2013). Assessment, standards-referencing and standard setting.. In M. M. C. Mok (Ed.), Self-directed learning oriented assessments in the Asia-Pacific. (pp. 23–41), Dordrecht: Springer.