ACARA news, July 2014

NAP-ICTL assessments: resources for parents and schools now available

29 July 2014

This year, in October and November, a sample of Year 6 and Year 10 students from across Australia will take part in a national sample assessment in information and communication technology literacy (ICTL). Around 12 000 students from randomly chosen schools across Australia are selected to participate in the assessment.

This is one of a set of assessments within the National Assessment Program (NAP). The NAP monitors students’ achievements in literacy and numeracy (through the annual NAPLAN tests), and in science literacy, civics and citizenship, and ICT literacy through sample assessments which are undertaken in three-yearly cycles – this year is ICT literacy assessment.

New resources providing information about the ICT literacy assessment are now available on the NAP website, one for schools and one for parents and carers.

Anzac Day Schools' Awards

29 July 2014

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today congratulated Melba Copland Secondary School in the ACT and Binnu Primary School in WA, which have been awarded top honours in this year’s Anzac Day Schools’ Awards.

The Anzac Day Schools' Awards are designed to encourage initiative and creativity in the way that schools commemorate Anzac Day, with an emphasis on inventiveness balanced with tradition.

ACARA congratulates the schools involved and understands and supports the importance of students learning about Australia’s participation and experiences in wartime. The Australian Curriculum: History allows for reflection of Australia’s military history, its costs and impacts on our nation. Content relating to Anzac Day is contained throughout the Australian Curriculum: History, from Foundation to Year 10.

Read 'Anzac spirit lives on in our schools', the Minister’s media release 

Cricket Smart have fun and learn

29 July 2014

ACARA supports Cricket Australia’s initiative Cricket Smart (PDF 348 kb), which helps create a fun and engaging learning environment in Australian schools. Aligned to the Australian Curriculum, the free tool for teachers addresses general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to support students to be healthy, safe and active individuals. ACARA is pleased to support resources that link to the curriculum and help to improve learning outcomes for all young Australians.

Find out more on the Cricket Smart website and visit  Scootle to access other digital resources mapped to the Australian Curriculum.

NSW Education Week launched

28 July 2014

NSW Premier Mike Baird and NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli have launched Education Week 2014, 60 years since Education Week was first celebrated in NSW in 1954.

'Education Week is the time for us all to recognise and celebrate the achievements of public schools, their students, staff and school communities,' Mr Baird said.

Find more information on the NSW Public Schools website.

Developing and delivering assessments online

28 July 2014

ACARA has been developing and delivering NAPLAN tests to students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 since 2010. We are committed to ensuring these tests continue to be useful tools to help identify students’ strengths and areas for improvement.

Since 2012, ACARA has been undertaking a range of research activities to look at the feasibility and practicalities of delivering NAPLAN tests in an online environment. Delivering tests online offers opportunities to administer better testing and provide faster turn-around of results. This is primarily through tailored testing (where test questions are tailored to the individual student’s ability).

Some of the research activities have included:

  • a small pilot study undertaken in September–October 2012, focused on the difference between questions delivered on paper and online
  • trialling the tailored test design in 260 schools in August–October 2013.

Between August and September this year, 300 schools will be taking part in a third study to finalise the targeting of the test design and its branching mechanism – that is, the way students are directed to certain sets of questions based on their demonstrated abilities.

Making the switch to an online environment is an exciting step forward and, while a decision is yet to be taken on a start date, ACARA is undertaking this necessary research to ensure the needs of everyone, students, parents and teachers, are considered in the process.

An open letter to parents and carers – Bringing NAPLAN home: The results and your child

28 July 2014

ACARA CEO Rob Randall has written an open letter to parents and carers.

Read 'Bringing NAPLAN home: The results and your child' (PDF 85 kb)

Do video games have a place in the Australian Curriculum?

24 July 2014

The Australian Curriculum recognises the use of digital technology (such as video games and mobile media) as beneficial in engaging students and keeping abreast of advancing technology and development. Digital literacy and the use of games in learning are covered in the Australian Curriculum: Media Arts.

As an art form evolving in the 21st century, media arts enables students to use existing and emerging technologies (such as video games, the internet, mobile media, television, film, video, newspapers and radio) to explore imagery, text and sound, and create meaning as they participate in, experiment with and interpret diverse cultures and communications practices.

Media arts has the capacity to engage, inspire and enrich all students, exciting the imagination and encouraging students to reach their creative and expressive potential. It enables them to become critically aware of ways that the media are culturally used and negotiated, and are dynamic and central to the way they make sense of the world and of themselves.

Visit the Australian Curriculum website for more information.

Parents to receive NAPLAN student reports from August

24 July 2014

In May over 1.1 million students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 took the annual NAPLAN tests to assess their skills in literacy and numeracy. From next month, parents will start receiving the results of these tests through the NAPLAN student reports. Parents should read the reports in the context of what they already know about their child’s academic performance and in conjunction with other assessment information and reports they may already have received from their child’s school. Further information on how to read the report can be found on the NAP website.

NAPLAN is important as it provides information for school authorities and schools to review the effectiveness of their programs and to address any areas requiring improvement. It gives a national snapshot of how children are doing in the important skills of literacy and numeracy.

ACARA has prepared an information brochure to help parents better understand the results and what they mean. NAPLAN is not a pass or fail test and there are no rewards or penalties for the result your child achieves. Rather, the NAPLAN student report is a point in time snapshot of your child’s achievements in the important areas of literacy and numeracy. This snapshot also gives an indication of how students compare with other students both within their school community and across Australia.

Visit the NAP website to see the  parent information brochure (PDF 348 kb)

Explanation of the Australian Curriculum for parents

24 July 2014

ACARA is aware that from time to time schools may wish to inform their parent community about the Australian Curriculum through newsletters or presentations. To assist, we have developed text that schools may choose to incorporate into publications and presentations.

ACARA acknowledges and is aware that in some states and territories not all the available Australian Curriculum has been endorsed for use in schools and that schools in those states rely on existing state-based materials. Further information on implementation of the Australian Curriculum across Australia can be found in the State and territory implementation if the Foundation – Year 10 Australian Curriculum document (PDF 460 kb).

States and territories are responsible for what is taught in schools. For example, in NSW, BOSTES is responsible for developing, in close consultation with teachers and other stakeholders, the mandatory curriculum K–12 to be taught in NSW schools.

This text has been written in such a way that a school, if it wished, could use this information directly in publications and presentations. It can, however, be altered in any way a school wished, to accommodate state and territory expectations and requirements and school and teacher needs.

See the Explanation of the Australian Curriculum for parents text (WORD 12 kb)

ABC: Melbourne teenage mathlete wins gold again

23 July 2014

Seventeen-year-old maths genius Alex Gunning from Glen Waverley Secondary College (Melbourne) has achieved a perfect score at the International Mathematical Olympiad in South Africa, winning a gold medal for the second year in a row.

Read more on the ABC website

International Olympiad in Informatics: Aussie kids on top of the world!

23 July 2014

Australia’s four-member secondary school student team achieved our best ever result at the 2014 International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) held in Taipei, Chinese Taipei, from 13 to 20 July 2014.

Our team brings home two gold and two silver medals with Australia's first perfect score, and first and fifth place in the world for computer programming.

The top performer in the Australian team was 16-year-old Ishraq Huda, who was one of only three in the world to attain a perfect score, Australia’s first IOI perfect score and best individual ranking result.

Read the Australian Mathematics Trust media release (PDF 363 kb)

ACARA and PIEF successful collaboration

22 July 2014

Since 2010 ACARA has worked with the Primary Industries Education Foundation (PIEF) as critical friends during the technologies curriculum development process. We thank the PIEF for their support and guidance.

The Australian Curriculum recognises that students need to understand where their food and fibre comes from and the processes of food and fibre production. The Australian Curriculum provides for opportunities to investigate innovative and sustainable ways of producing these raw materials. Food and fibre refers to the human-produced or harvested resources used to sustain human life directly.

Food and fibre production is addressed in two ways in the Australian Curriculum:

  • across science and geography (it is identified in content descriptions and elaborations)
  • across design and technologies from Foundation to Year 8, where students progressively develop knowledge and understanding about the managed systems that produce food and fibre through creating designed solutions (it is identified as a context and a body of knowledge, understanding and skill).

Child safety in the Australian Curriculum

22 July 2014

ACARA agrees with Mr and Mrs Morcombe that teaching students about child safety is incredibly important; we respect and acknowledge their contribution to this vitally important issue. We commend the work Mr and Mrs Morcombe have done in producing the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum and its focus on child safety.

The content proposed in the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum is in the Australian Curriculum: health and physical education, and digital technologies. Like the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum, the Australian Curriculum covers child safety matters such as identifying people who help children to be safe, recognising safe and unsafe situations, knowing how and when to seek help online and phone safety.

The Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum, however, also provides for teaching ideas and lesson plans that teachers can use to teach the content. These are available on Scootle for Queensland schools to use.

Robert Randall,

Sexuality in the Australian Curriculum

22 July 2014

In a discussion on ABC’s Q&A last night, the issue of sexuality education in the national curriculum was raised.

The relationships and sexuality focus area of the health and physical education curriculum addresses physical, social and emotional changes that occur over time and the significant role relationships and sexuality play in these changes.

The content supports students to develop knowledge, understanding and skills that will help them to establish and manage respectful relationships. It also supports them to develop positive practices in relation to their reproductive and sexual health and the development of their identities.

It is expected that all students at appropriate intervals from Year 3 to Year 10 will learn about the following:

• reproduction and sexual health
• practices that support reproductive and sexual health (contraception, negotiating consent, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses)
• changing identities and the factors that influence them (including personal, cultural, gender and sexual identities)
• people who are important to them
• strategies for relating to and interacting with others
• assertive behaviour and standing up for themselves
• establishing and managing changing relationships (offline and online)
• bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence (including discrimination based on race, gender and sexuality)
• strategies for dealing with relationships when there is an imbalance of power (including seeking help or leaving the relationship)
• puberty and how the body changes over time
• managing the physical, social and emotional changes that occur during puberty
• celebrating and respecting difference and diversity in individuals and communities.

The Australian Curriculum provides a consistent framework across the country of what we want all students to be taught. It provides an outline for teachers on what they need to teach and when in relation to sexuality education.

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education (F–10) is designed to allow schools flexibility to meet the learning needs of all young people, particularly in the health focus area of relationships and sexuality. All school communities have a responsibility when implementing the health and physical education curriculum to ensure that teaching is inclusive and relevant to the lived experiences of all students.

This is particularly important when teaching about reproduction and sexual health, to ensure that the needs of all students are met, including students who may be same-sex attracted, gender diverse or intersex.

Read more on the 'Diversity' page of the Australian Curriculum website.

Four new languages curricula for the Australian Curriculum

21 July 2014

ACARA has today released the Australian Curriculum for four languages: Chinese, French, Indonesian and Italian.

These are the first in a suite of languages curricula to be released and are now available on the new Australian Curriculum website. The remaining languages curricula including the Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages, Arabic, German, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese are currently under development. Funding for additional languages curricula including Turkish, Hindi, AUSLAN, and Classical Greek and Latin has been provided by the Australian Government.

With the release of the languages curricula, ACARA has now published curriculum for all eight learning areas of the Australian Curriculum – a significant moment in Australian education history.

The eight learning areas are available on the Australian Curriculum website, which has been redesigned after extensive feedback with improved navigation and functionality.

Read 'A significant moment in Australian education history' media release (PDF 84 kb)

MH17: ACARA expresses condolences

21 July 2014

ACARA wishes to express its condolences to the families and loved ones of those that have tragically died on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

A number of educators are believed to be amongst those who have lost their lives. Their loss will be felt deeply by the teaching community, their colleagues and by students and former students alike.

ACARA would like to express our sincere sympathy to those affected by this tragedy.

ACARA welcomes new Board members, farewells departing members

15 July 2014

ACARA is pleased to welcome six new Board members to the ACARA Board: Deputy Chair Professor Emeritus Brian Caldwell and members Valerie Gould, Dr Paul Sharkey, Patrea Walton, Stephen Gniel and Michael Hewitson AM.

Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, MP, announced the six new Board members today following completion of the Commonwealth appointment process.

Read the Ministers' Media Centre media release

As ACARA welcomes new Board members, we again acknowledge and thank those who have farewelled the Board:

  • ACARA Deputy Chair Tony Mackay, Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic Education, Victoria
  • Dr Brian Croke, Executive Director, Catholic Education Commission, New South Wales
  • Lesley Englert, former Assistant Director-General, Curriculum, Queensland Department of Education and Training
  • Angus James, Principal Partner of Aquasia
  • Dianne Kerr, former Chair of the Australian Capital Territory Government Schools Education Council
  • Garry Le Duff, former Chief Executive, Association of Independent Schools of South Australia.

All of them were foundation members of the ACARA Board, appointed by the federal government with the concurrence of all ministers for education on 28 May 2009. Tony Mackay, Brian Croke and Garry Le Duff had also been members of the precursor Interim National Curriculum Board from April 2008 to May 2009.

Have you heard?

15 July 2014

You may have heard through the grapevine that the Australian Curriculum will soon be updated with four new languages, made available for use, subject to endorsement.

Stay tuned – this is just one of the exciting developments we will launch on Monday 21 July, a significant day in Australia’s educational history as curricula become available for use across all eight learning areas.

Check back on our website, watch out for the ACARA Update in your inbox, or follow us on social media on Twitter @ACARAeduau or Facebook ACARAeduau.

ACARA supports QCAA decision to release NAPLAN 'raw data'

15 July 2014

ACARA supports the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s decision to release NAPLAN raw data to schools early in Term 3.

The most significant purpose of releasing raw data reports is to provide timely feedback, which will enable schools to identify immediately the items on which they have performed well and those not performed well, so that principals may work with teachers to inform their curriculum and pedagogy.

The raw data reports would have the student names, the responses to each question (marked with a tick if correct, the incorrect response if wrong, and a dash if the student omitted the item), the raw score for the student, and class and Queensland percentages correct on each item. This format is one that schools are familiar with.

It must be emphasised that the data is provisional, and as data continues to be cleaned, it may change slightly.

ACARA supports project to strengthen NAPLAN testing

14 July 2014

ACARA is pleased to support the University of Western Australia (UWA), which leads an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project aiming to offer new approaches in assessing students’ writing in NAPLAN and future sample assessments.

The goal of the new project is to produce improved and novel methods for assessing students by using open-ended tasks that will allow educators to more accurately compare students’ achievements and track their progress. Investigators aim to develop marking methods that will enable reliable assessment of essays and written responses during NAPLAN testing and in areas not covered by it such as history and the arts.

We look forward to working with UWA, the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards and the WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority on this project.

ACARA opposes use of NAPLAN data on The Australian's 'Your school' website

14 July 2014

One function of ACARA’s My School website is to show results for schools in the national literacy and numeracy tests (NAPLAN). When My School was established, a key focus was on being able to make fair comparisons (unlike those often made with Year 12 results). ACARA has the view that if comparisons are to be made between schools, they should at least take account of the socio-educational background of students attending the school. That is, are the schools being compared working with students with similar socio-educational backgrounds?

ACARA’s My School site publishes comparisons among schools and students from similar levels of socio-education advantage. Those comparisons have encouraged many schools to lift expectations by showing them that more is possible than they are currently achieving.

This is a facility that is not available from The Australian’s online database, called ‘Your School’, which simply produces list of schools; lists that can potentially mislead readers. ACARA does not support the publication of lists of schools that allow unfair comparisons to be made.

Statement from Rob Randall, ACARA CEO: Budget 2014-15

10 July 2014

On 14 May 2014 the Australian Government's 2014–15 budget was handed down.

There was no change in the federal government’s core funding allocation for ACARA in 2014–15. The core funding was consistent with the work plan and budget submitted to the ministers in 2011.

There is a forecast reduction in the 2017–18 allocation to ACARA of $2.6 million, which was funding that had been allocated by the previous government for future work that was to come to ACARA, but which was not assigned to ACARA by the ministers.

In addition, the government provided ACARA with an additional $1.8 million over two years from 2014–15 to develop further F–10 languages curricula. This follows on from an election commitment to revive the teaching of languages in Australian schools.

ACARA understands that the work that has been undertaken in recent years on online assessment and related projects will now be submitted to the Australian Government’s ICT Two Pass Review process. The ICT Two Pass Review is a requirement of the Australian Government to provide independent quality assurance on significant ICT projects, particularly those involving high risk in terms of cost and technical complexity.

ACARA is continuing to work with the Australian Government and states and territories to develop a full cost/benefit analysis of online assessment. ACARA is also continuing its research to inform the move to online assessment, including a study that will be delivered in schools in August this year. For further information about ACARA’s online assessment research, visit the ‘Online assessment research’ page of this website.

Aussie kids learning to be financially savvy

10 July 2014

A study released by the OECD as a part of its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has found that 79 per cent of Australian students agree it is important for them to learn money management at school.

The study assessed the extent to which 15-year-olds across 18 countries have the financial literacy knowledge and skills to successfully transition from school into higher education, employment or entrepreneurship; it reports that 16 per cent of Australian students were top performers, compared to 10 per cent of students across the OECD.

Financial literacy is covered in the Australian Curriculum to support students’ knowledge, skills, values and behaviours in making responsible and informed decisions about managing money and assets and consumer issues.

The F–10 Australian Curriculum: Mathematics develops financial literacy in Years 1–10 through the sub-strand of money and financial mathematics, the focus being to develop an understanding of the value of money and equipping students with the skills to effectively manage money and carry out financial transactions.

The Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business builds on the knowledge, understanding and proficiencies in the mathematics curriculum. The writing of this curriculum has been guided by four key organising ideas, one of which is consumer and financial literacy.

ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission), the government agency responsible for financial literacy in Australia, commended the draft economics and business curriculum for its ‘strong integration of consumer and financial literacy’. ASIC’s MoneySmart program provides guidance about integrating consumer and financial education into specific learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.

PRIMARY MATTERS for primary schools - July issue

10 July 2014

Read the July issue of PRIMARY MATTERS, a quarterly update from ACARA’s Primary Curriculum team.You can also see earlier issues by visiting the newsletter page of this website.

Northern Territory a hotspot for educational experiences

09 July 2014

The Northern Territory Minister for Tourism, Matt Conlan, has welcomed a plan that could see the Territory become a hotspot for school groups.

‘The new Australian Curriculum presents an enormous opportunity for the NT to become a leading provider of educational experiences, with our rich Indigenous culture and history, particularly military history, the Territory could become a hub for assisting students to learn more about these important Australian subjects,’ says Minister Conlan.

Tourism NT, together with a number of stakeholders, has developed the Australian Schools Education Tourism Activation Plan, which is open for comment on the Tourism NT corporate website.


08 July 2014

This week (6–13 July) is NAIDOC Week. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, has announced that the national theme for this year is Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond, with the theme honouring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.

Minister Scullion said: 'NAIDOC week is a time to recognise and reflect on the role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have played in shaping our identity and to pause and reflect on their sacrifice, and to honour their priceless contribution to our nation.

NAIDOC week is contained in the Australian Curriculum: History as one of the days and weeks celebrated or commemorated in Australia. For more information, visit the Australian Curriculum website and search for ‘NAIDOC’.

Food for thought in the Australian Curriculum

04 July 2014

ACARA welcomes the funding of the Primary Industries Education Foundation by the Australian Government to develop resources to support the teaching and learning of food and fibre content that is provided in the Australian Curriculum.

Food and fibre production is one of four contexts studied in the F–10 Australian Curriculum: Design and Technologies. ACARA has worked collaboratively with representatives from the primary industry sector throughout the curriculum development process.

Food and fibre content is found in learning areas across the Australian Curriculum, especially in technologies, geography and science. The identification of curriculum content connections, such as food and fibre production, is a new feature under development on the Australian Curriculum website, for launch later in 2014.