News articles and ACARA statements


Where available, we will publish on this page news articles that talk about our work or about important issues in education, along with responses or comments made by ACARA.

  • 10 June 2015
    The Conversation: Tailored online NAPLAN better for monitoring high and low achievers
    Read the full article 
  • 12 September 2014
    Daily Telegraph: Keep NAPLAN results secret from the public, says The Australian Primary Principals Association
    Read the full article 
  • 12 September 2014
    Sydney Morning Herald: Strip results from My School website, say school principals
    Read the full article 
  • 19 August 2014
    The Australian: ‘Don't write off NAPLAN tests’
    ‘The [NAPLAN] tests provide accountability and transparency and are a valuable feature of Australian education in all sectors. They deserve to retain bipartisan support.'
    Read the full ‘Don't write off NAPLAN tests’ article
  • 19 August 2014
    ABC: NAPLAN designers defend 'challenging' writing tests
    The Chief Executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Robert Randall, explains the controversial test that's being blamed for recent poor writing results.
    See the full video on the ABC website

20 June 2014

Latin: a choice amongst many

The story 'Absurdus Maximus' (the Courier Mail, 20 June) is an absurdity itself.

It is disappointing that the Courier Mail and its journalist chose to ignore the facts provided to them by ACARA. This is sensationalist journalism at its best and an attempt to politicise the Australian curriculum.

Latin will not be 'dragged back into Australian schools' as reported. Instead, schools will simply have a wider choice of languages to teach in the classroom.

It is schools that decide the languages they want to teach. Some schools may choose to offer Latin as a language to study. Some may not. It is their choice as that choice exists now.

The more language options available for schools, the more likely students will continue to study a language through to their senior year. A government aim is for 40 per cent of Year 12 students to studying a second language in a decade - ACARA is supporting this initiative by offering world class curriculum improving the learning for all young Australians.

The languages selected for development and inclusion in the curriculum by ACARA followed extensive consultation in 2011. There was support for the development of classical languages, along with a range of others. Eleven languages have been, or are being, developed. A further five additional languages including Turkish, Hindi, AUSLAN and Classical Greek and Latin have been funded for development.

Rob Randall
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

20 June 2014

Coding in the curriculum: Response to AFR story

The Australian Financial Review published an article this week entitled 'Should schools teach coding as part of the curriculum?' This article contained inaccuracies.

Read ACARA's response

16 June 2014

ACARA CEO looks back on NAPLAN 2014

ACARA CEO Rob Randall has written an article for The Age wrapping up NAPLAN for another year. He reminds readers that illiteracy and poor numeracy skills are high-stakes, and that despite all the controversy and media headlines, the majority of students took NAPLAN as it was meant to be: just another day at school.

Read the full article

4 June 2014

Northern Territory: student principals for a day

On 4 June selected school students will have an opportunity to become a principal of their school for a day. They will participate in a number of leadership opportunities throughout the day and gain a real insight into the work of their principal and school governance.

Next week students will be able to share their experiences with other student principals from around Australia through an online forum.

Read the Northern Territory Government’s media release

4 June 2014

The  Age: 'Parent partners lead to love of learning'

Leah Young from The  Age believes that parents' involvement in learning improves children's achievements.

Read the full article

3 June 2014

Kidspot: 'Numeracy, your children and what you can do'

Linda Drummond from the Kidspot Australia, parenting site and pregnancy resource, examines what it means to be numerate, and what parents can do to help their children.

Read the full article

31 May 2014

The Australian Financial Review: 'Literacy, numeracy and the big transition'

Alan Michell, the Australian Financial Review, reflects on how the future of Australia is connected to the nation's literacy and numeracy skills.

Read the full article (subscription required)

19 May 2014

ACARA rejects conclusions of Whitlam Report

ACARA disagrees with the conclusions of the Whitlam Institute report (due to be released 20 May). The conclusions do not reflect the discussion in the report and appear to be based on poorly constructed questions and unclear interview protocols.

There is evidence contained in the report that is not reflected in the conclusions, for example:

  • 50 per cent of teachers say that NAPLAN information is useful.

  • There are nine ways in which NAPLAN data have been used to help schools make judgements on curriculum and teaching style.

  • 70 per cent of parents surveyed believed the information provided by NAPLAN to be useful.

  • 50 per cent of parent respondents viewed NAPLAN positively.

  • Principals also provided useful examples where they were using NAPLAN to drive school improvement.

While ACARA welcomes any feedback which is directed at improving NAPLAN, this report is unhelpful as it continues to perpetuate myths and inaccuracies about NAPLAN.

Beyond the headline seeking conclusions in the report, some of the data in the body of the report will be useful and can guide continuous improvement for NAPLAN.

NAPLAN looks at what level students are achieving in literacy and numeracy against the national standard and compared with their peers throughout Australia. Schools and governments can then provide support where it is most needed. NAPLAN is not high-stakes for students. NAPLAN is not pass or fail. It has no immediate consequences for children. It benefits students by identifying areas for development.

Read the full ACARA statement

Read statements made about NAPLAN

12 May 2014

The Australian: 'Busting the NAPLAN myths'

Justine Ferrari from The Australian writes about the upcoming NAPLAN tests, sharing her and her daughter's experience.

Read the full article (subscription required)

9 May 2914

Canberra Times: 'Student wellbeing most vital, says expert'

Emma Macdonald from The Canberra Times discusses NAPLAN with international mathematics education expert, University of Canberra Centenary Research Professor Thomas Lowrie.

Read the full article

7 May 2014

Courier Mail, Brisbane: ‘Test preparation calls for a plan’

Lyn Carter of The Courier Mail writes about student preparation for the upcoming NAPLAN tests.

Read the full article

7 May 2014:

Would you succeed in NAPLAN tests?

A few famous South Australians got NAPLAN-tested by Elisa Black from The Adelaide Advertiser.

Read the full article

30 April 2014:

Herald Sun: 'If kids fall behind, we need to be told'

Susie O’Brien of the Herald Sun writes about the upcoming NAPLAN tests and measuring student achievement.

Read the full article

10 April 2014:

ABC Brisbane: kids' test nervousness can be reduced

Rebecca McLaren from ABC Brisbane discusses with Dr Divna Haslam from the Parenting & Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland how to reduce child nervousness during test times.

Donwnload Rebecca McLaren and Dr Divna Haslam's conversation

24 March 2014:

ACARA's statement to the review of Australian Curriculum

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has provided a statement as a contribution to the federal government’s review of the Australian Curriculum.


19 March 2014:

Is NAPLAN really that stressful?

ABC published an article ‘The myth of NAPLAN stress’ written by Jennifer Buckingham, a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies.

In her article, Jennifer is questioning numerous claims that the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) causes too much pressure and even has damaging effect on both schools and school students.

The article has received almost 300 readers' comments.

Read ‘The myth of NAPLAN stress’ by Jennifer Buckingham

26 October 2013:

Conservative values deserve championing, Kevin Donnelly, The Australian

Robert Randall's full letter to the editor in response to "Conservative values deserve championing" (published in edited form, 29 October, The Australian):

Kevin Donnelly unfortunately misrepresents what the Australian Curriculum sets out for young people to learn.
He says that ‘every subject has to be taught through environmental, indigenous and Asian perspectives' but that is not true. They are identified as issues that should be addressed but only where relevant and as part of the teaching of the traditional disciplines of knowledge.
He says, “The English curriculum adopts a definition of literature where classic works jostle for attention alongside SMS messages.” The English curriculumsays literature involves 'past and present texts across a range of cultural contexts that are valued for their form and style and are recognised as having enduring or artistic value'. It does not suggest that SMS texts or similar meet this definition.
Donnelly also confuses curriculum with teaching methods. The Australian Curriculum sets out what young people should learn. It does not specify how students should be taught. In early years English, for example, the curriculum says that students should be taught phonics as well as spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and comprehension strategies. The role that direct instruction plays is a matter for teachers, schools and school authorities.
It is in everyone's interests to improve the national curriculum. ACARA continues to seek and welcome challenge and feedback. It had that as the curriculum was being developed. Thousands of teachers, academics and members of the community actively and productively participated in the development process and none of it became the Australian Curriculum until the federal, state and territoryeducation ministers endorsed the final products.
There is no doubt that Donnelly is committed to improving Australian education. It is unfortunate that his selective representation of what has been developed and how it has occurred devalues the substantial contributions of others.

Robert Randall, Chief Executive Officer, ACARA

24 October 2013:

Postmodern clap trap rules in schools, Alannah MacTiernan, The Australian

Our response to "Postmodern clap trap rules in schools", (published as "In defence of curriculum", 26 October, Weekend Australian):

I invite Alannah MacTiernan to read the curriculum ("Postmodern clap trap rules in schools", 24/10). She will see that it does present the basic building blocks of reading and provides clear expectations for teachers across the country on the teaching of reading.

The curriculum, approved by federal, state and territory ministers in 2010, has a strong emphasis on early reading and literacy skills. Content to be taught includes phonics, spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and comprehension. Students are also expected to study literature in each year of school.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has developed national curriculums in English, mathematics, science, history and geography that can be viewed by anyone on our website and conducts NAPLAN with results published on My School so that all can see where schools are doing well and where there is room for improvement.

Robert Randall, Chief Executive Officer, ACARA 

16 October 2013:

Writing on the wall for NAPLAN nay-sayers: we must improve literacy, Ben Jensen, The Australian

12 October 2013:

National curriculum mired in half-baked fads, Judith Sloan, The Australian

30 September 2013:

Bad teaching kills reading skills, Jennifer Buckingham, The Australian

Our response to “Bad teaching kills reading skills":

ACARA agrees with Jennifer Buckingham (Centre for Independent Studies) about the importance of teaching early reading skills in English. That’s why in the Australian Curriculum: English there is a strong emphasis on early reading skills.

The Australian Curriculum: English makes clear what all young Australians should learn in this discipline. It provides the foundation for high quality teaching to meet the needs of all Australian students. Curriculum content includes phonics as well as spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and comprehension strategies. Students study literature at every year level.

The National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (2005) report was a key reference for the development of the Australian Curriculum.

We encourage everyone to read the Australian Curriculum for English and to provide feedback on what is set for all young Australians to learn. We also welcome more discussion about how best to teach this vitally important knowledge, understanding and skill to students across the country.