ACARA news, November 2013

Work Studies consultation closing soon

26 November 2013

This is a reminder that the draft Australian Curriculum: Work Studies, Years 9–10, is open for public consultation until Sunday 8 December 2013.

During this consultation period, 23 secondary schools across Australia will also be participating in intensive engagement with the draft Australian Curriculum: Work Studies, Years 9–10. Some initial feedback from these schools has indicated that there is much excitement surrounding this draft curriculum and its trialling in these schools.

ACARA staff visited trialling schools and have been thrilled by the level of engagement they have seen, the creative and challenging activities students have been involved in, and the level of support for Work Studies from students, teachers and parents.

Comments from students include from a Year 9 girl, ‘You’ve changed my life!’ and from a Year 10 boy: ‘Work Studies hasn’t changed my career choice but it has really deepened and broadened my understanding of my career’.

The consultation period provides an opportunity for stakeholders to give feedback on the draft Australian Curriculum: Work Studies Years 9–10.

Participation by all stakeholders is encouraged in this important stage of the curriculum development process. Feedback can be provided on the Australian Curriculum consultation website.

Reflections on the Global Education Leaders’ Program

14 November 2013

The Global Education Leaders' Program (GELP) brings together education leaders who are committed to transforming education and developing the skills to lead changes. GELP meetings provide an opportunity for member jurisdictions to share practices, goals and challenges, as they interact with other systems' leaders, policy-makers, thought leaders and world-class consultants.

Dr Phil Lambert, ACARA's General Manager, Curriculum, recently attended the GELP conference in New Delhi. He said that the conference provided him 'with a unique opportunity to meet with leaders from several countries and engage in focussed discussion and reflection on key directions and issues in curriculum and assessment reform.

'The series of workshops and presentations enabled those in the Australian team to consider developments to date, both in Australia and in other countries, and for the delegates to collectively consider opportunities and challenges through two key themes: New Players (the potential key individuals and groups which are not involved in the dialogue and which would bring additional value to reforms); and New Metrics (given the important goals we have in education, how well do our current measures inform us and what new measures are needed to determine our success, our otherwise)'.

Dr Lambert visited a school in South Delhi, where he met with the leadership team, student groups and viewed classrooms in action. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) gave a presentation on the changes taking place in India, where there is a clear policy direction to incorporate critical and creative thinking into the curriculum to ensure students are equipped for living in the 21st century.

Dr Lambert said, 'It was particularly pleasing to have received very positive feedback from the team from Finland which attended the ACARA session on our curriculum and assessment framework. They observed that our approach to curriculum was both impressive and comprehensive and, while our socio-cultural context is quite different from their circumstances, the reforms they will be undertaking for secondary schooling should be informed by the steps we have taken and what we have achieved'.

ACARA clarifies NAPLAN standards and achievement scale

11 November 2013

The minimum standards currently used for NAPLAN were set in 2007 and ACARA has commenced work to review these with the implementation of the Australian Curriculum, the move to online assessment and in the light of international reports.

The NAPLAN results are reported on the NAPLAN achievement scale that is divided into 10 bands. The test is designed to see which band of achievement each student is at. Only a few items are needed to judge whether a student is at the minimum standard. Other items in the test are used to tell how far beyond the minimum standard each student is at.

The score conversion table is available on request from ACARA. It is a technical aid to convert raw test scores to a NAPLAN achievement band. The band descriptors, which are part of each student's NAPLAN report, provide more meaningful information and are provided to each parent with their child's NAPLAN report.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is an independent authority providing a rigorous, national approach to education through a national curriculum, the national assessment program and a national data collection and reporting program.

ACARA collaborates with teachers, principals, governments, state and territory education authorities, professional education associations, community groups and the general public to develop national education standards that are applied across every school in Australia.

ACARA's mission is to improve the learning of all young Australians, through world-class school curriculum, assessment and reporting.

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests are conducted in May each year for all students across Australia in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. All students in the same year level are assessed on the same test items in the areas of reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

Each year across Australia, over one million students sit the NAPLAN tests. The resulting data provides students, parents, teachers, schools and school systems with important information about the literacy and numeracy achievements of students.

NAPLAN tests are developed by ACARA, state and territory governments, the non-government education sectors and the Australian Government. The test administration authority in each state and territory is responsible for their delivery and implementation, including data capture and delivery of reports.

NAPLAN provides nationally comparable data on individual student performance in literacy and numeracy at four times through their school life.

These data can be analysed at school, state and territory, and national levels. They can be used to inform and evaluate planning and strategies to improve literacy and numeracy of students in all schools across Australia.

The national tests complement school and class-based assessment that is core part of the teaching and learning process, but add a key national standard component.

Read NAPLAN testing disguises illiteracy, says Labor MP by Bianca Hall, The Age, 9 November 2013.

ACARA’s senior project officer presents to key stakeholders in the Northern Territory

04 November 2013

ACARA works with a range of key stakeholders including states and territories’ departments of education, professional associations, teachers, health organisations and sporting bodies as the Australian Curriculum is developed and implemented.

Recently Janice Atkin, our Senior Project Officer Health and Physical Education, spent a week in the Northern Territory working in partnership with NT Department of Education (NT DET), providing information sessions and workshops on the draft Health and Physical Education curriculum.

The first session was specifically targeting teachers and was eagerly anticipated by teachers, some of who travelled over an hour to attend this meeting. After an introductory presentation from Janice, Anne Goodman from NT DET walked teachers through the key concepts and content of the curriculum, and discussed some of the main changes for NT schools with the move to programming from the national curriculum.

Sessions were also conducted with key health stakeholders and sporting bodies that provide support to NT schools in the health and physical education learning area. Once again, there was strong support for the move to a national curriculum and all parties were keen to be involved in collaborative projects that further developed the capacity and confidence of teachers to deliver quality health and physical education programs in schools.

The finale to the trip was the Australasian Sexual Health conference in Darwin. Janice was one of four keynote speakers in a symposium that focused on educating young people about relationships and sexuality. The symposium highlighted the importance of the role the community – particularly parents and carers, as well as schools and the media – plays to help young people learn how to establish and maintain meaningful, respectful relationships.

In her speech, Janice focused on how teaching about relationships and sexuality encourages students to develop a coherent set of knowledge, understanding, skills and values based on respecting themselves and others. Students become better equipped to develop meaningful and positive relationships, take a positive approach to managing their lives, and are prepared for current and future life challenges.

The Foundation – Year 10 Health and Physical Education curriculum will be submitted to education ministers for approval in November 2013. Following approval, it will be published on the Australian Curriculum website.

Publication of ACARA’s Annual Report 2012–13

01 November 2013

ACARA has published its Annual Report 2012–13. This report highlights ACARA's achievements in curriculum, assessment and reporting and lists the advisors who have contributed to our work.

Professor Barry McGaw (ACARA Board Chair) says, ‘The work ACARA has done over the past four years means that for the first time Australian school students and teachers are now working with the same curriculum and able to share a great range of curriculum resources that support its teaching’. He goes on to say, ‘Through ACARA's assessment and reporting programs, schools, parents and the wider community also have a better understanding of what is happening within their local school and in schools across the nation’.

ACARA's achievements during the 2012–13 period include the online publication of the Australian Curriculum in 14 senior secondary subjects and Foundation – Year 10 geography curriculum. In the area of assessment, ACARA coordinated the delivery of the sixth annual NAPLAN tests. In reporting, ACARA released the latest edition of the My School website.

Along with details of our achievements in curriculum, assessment and reporting, the Annual Report outlines the future directions for our work, much of which has started. This includes functional enhancements to the Australian Curriculum website, publication of additional portfolios of annotated student work samples, research to inform the online delivery of the National Assessment Program (NAP) and alignment of assessments with Australian Curriculum.

ACARA would like to thank members of our advisory groups who have contributed to our work during this period. We would also like to thank teachers, principals, education authorities and many others who have supported and continue to support ACARA’s work.