National Report on Schooling in Australia 2010

Part 5

Student achievement

Overview

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians identifies literacy and numeracy as the cornerstone of schooling. Under Goal 2: ‘All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens’, successful learners are: ‘students who have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy’.
The Declaration commits all Australian governments to work with all school sectors and the broader community to achieve the educational goals for young Australians. As part of the commitment to promote world-class curriculum and assessment, Ministers agreed that ‘together the national curriculum and curriculum specified at the State, Territory and local levels will include a strong focus on literacy and numeracy skills’.
In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a National Education Agreement, which articulates high-level policy and reform directions to measuring and improving the literacy and numeracy achievement of young people. As part of their commitment to ensuring that young people are meeting basic literacy and numeracy standards, COAG agreed to a Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership, focusing on:
  • achieving sustainable improvements in literacy and numeracy, as a key indicator of the ability to go on and complete Year 12, for all students

  • improving literacy and numeracy for primary school students, especially Indigenous students

  • developing a national understanding of what works and a shared accountability for the achievement of Australian students. 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) was established in 2009. ACARA publishes nationally comparable information on student achievement to support accountability, policy development and resource allocation. Information on student achievement at the national, State and Territory, and student subgroup levels is published in reports for the National Assessment Program and from 2010 is reported at the school level on the My School website.

The National Assessment Program (NAP)

The National Assessment Program is run at the direction of the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA). It has both national and international components. It includes:
  • annual full cohort literacy and numeracy assessments in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 (NAPLAN)

  • triennial national sample assessments in science literacy (Year 6), information and communication technology literacy (Years 6 and 10) and civics and citizenship (Years 6 and 10)

  • participation by a sample of 15-year-old students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which assesses students’ reading, mathematical and scientific literacy

  • participation by a sample of Year 4 and Year 8 students in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) conducted every four years by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) which assesses students’ performance in mathematics and science. 

National assessments conducted in 2010 included both national and international elements:
  • annual full cohort literacy and numeracy assessments in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 (NAPLAN)

  •  National Assessment Program (NAP) Year 6 and Year 10 Civics and Citizenship sample assessment

  • Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) sample assessment in mathematics and science for Year 4 and Year 8. Australian students took part in testing for TIMSS 2011 in late 2010.

TIMSS 2011

TIMSS 2011 was initiated in February 2009. Instrument development and field test activities were carried out between February 2009 and May 2010. Data collection for the main survey was carried out in October to December 2010 (southern hemisphere countries) and March to June 2011 (northern hemisphere countries).
The international reports will be released in December 2012, followed by the international database and user guide in January 2013.

PIRLS 2011

In late 2010, Australian students also participated, for the first time, in a third international program, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessment in reading literacy for Year 4.
The schedule of activities for PIRLS 2011 began in February 2008. Instrument development and field test activities were carried out between February 2008 and May 2010. Data collection for the main survey took place in October to December 2010 (southern hemisphere countries) and March to June 2011 (northern hemisphere countries).
The international reports will be released in December 2012, followed by the international database and user guide in February 2013.