ACARA news, August 2017

The importance of a History curriculum

29 August 2017

Following recent discussions about history and what is taught in schools, ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, reiterates the importance of the subject:

 The study of history is a significant part of the education of all young Australians. It helps students to appreciate how the world and its people has changed, and to value what we have learnt and gained from what happened in the past.

Read for yourself what we want young people to learn by visiting the Australian Curriculum website.

Studying history helps us know who we are – as individuals, as a community and as a nation. History provides our students with insights into the past – the good that has happened as well as the bad – and provides them with the skills and knowledge to shape their future.

The Australian Curriculum: History provides students with the opportunity to explore a great variety of topics, including stories of the First Fleet, the reasons for the journey, the people who travelled to Australia, and their experiences upon arrival. In the same area of the curriculum, students can learn about Australia’s first peoples and their experiences before, during and after the arrival of Europeans.

The Australian Curriculum: History seeks to develop young people’s ability to ask relevant questions; critically analyse and interpret sources; consider context; respect and explain different perspectives; develop and prove interpretations, and communicate effectively. It is important to remember that the Australian Curriculum does not specify how content must be taught. Schools and teachers have the flexibility to make decisions about how they teach the curriculum. They are the best placed to do so in their classrooms.

This gives schools and local curriculum authorities the ability to tailor their History curriculum to add local aspects relevant to their geographical area and student needs and interests.

Robert Randall,

Digital Technologies in Focus: update

21 August 2017

ACARA’s Digital Technologies in Focus project, which provides support and expertise to primary and secondary school teachers to implement the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, is well underway.

Eight Digital Technologies specialists have now been appointed to cover clusters across each state and territory around the country. As schools develop project proposals to drive implementation of Digital Technologies in their schools, the specialists will support professional learning.

Trial introductory workshops for the Digital Technologies in Focus project have been held in Tasmania (Hobart and Burnie) and Queensland (Charleville, Toowoomba and Townsville). Workshops will also be held in SA and WA this month; and in Victoria, NSW and Northern Territory in September and October.


Activities in schools for NAP

14 August 2017

The National Assessment Program (NAP), which includes NAPLAN, is run at the direction of the Education Council and is an important measure through which governments, education authorities and schools can determine if young Australians are meeting important education outcomes.

There are currently two NAP activities underway in schools:

1. Item trialling for NAPLAN tests

  • Trials of potential NAPLAN test items (or questions) are undertaken every year and are an essential part of the NAPLAN test development process.
  • This item trialling has occurred in August each year since 2007.
  • Item trialling ensures the quality of potential test questions and that the tests are valid, reliable and fair to all students.  
  • The security of test content is paramount. For this reason, those involved in item trialling are requested to maintain confidentiality of the content of items being trialled so no student has an unfair advantage when taking NAPLAN the following May.
  • Confidentiality applies to the item content only.
  • The ACARA item trialling is being held in a sample of schools (approximately 400) across Australia between 31 July and 18 August 2017.

The item trialling is independent of the school readiness testing (SRT), which is also taking place during August. 

2. School readiness testing for NAPLAN Online

School readiness testing (SRT) is being held in schools across Australia in August and September.

The purpose of SRT is to ensure a school is ready to undertake NAPLAN Online in future years.

SRT aims to test the technical readiness of schools and allows schools to:

  • assess their ICT capacity (bandwidth, wireless connectivity, number of devices)
  • become familiar with the NAPLAN Online administration processes and procedures.

SRT is not about assessing students and it is not a NAPLAN test. 

Teachers participating in SRT have no obligation to maintain confidentiality, nor is there any expectation for them to do so.  SRT includes a survey component to gather school, teacher and student views on their experience of SRT, and this feedback is welcome.

2017 NAPLAN summary information released

02 August 2017

Today ACARA has released the preliminary summary results of the 2017 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests.

“The NAPLAN data show that over the last 10 years, since NAPLAN was introduced in 2008, there has been some improvement across all year levels in most domains,” ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, said.

“Importantly, we see a gradual redistribution of students from lower bands of achievement to higher ones, particularly in some domains and year levels, such as Year 3 reading. In other areas, this improvement has not always been great enough to significantly impact national averages, but it is certainly a positive trend.”

Highlights of this year’s NAPLAN results include:

There is evidence of movement of students from lower to higher bands of achievement across year levels and most domains over the last 10 years. See our short video that demonstrates this.

Year 3 reading results continue to show sustained improvement.

ACT, Victoria and NSW continue to have high mean achievement across all domains.

There are increases in mean achievement in the Northern Territory in primary years reading and numeracy since 2008.

WA and Queensland have the largest growth in mean achievement across most domains since 2008.

Percentage of students meeting the national minimum standard remains high – over 90 per cent nationally and in most states and territories, across all domains and year levels.

The data also show that, compared with last year (2016), there is no improvement in average results across the country that is significant.

“Given the importance of literacy and numeracy during and beyond school, we would all like to see sustained growth in results across every domain and year level at the national level and in each state and territory,” Mr Randall said. “We can’t be complacent; however, lasting improvements in student achievement take a number of years to flow through school systems and require consolidating gains over time”.

“The ten-year data indicate that change is happening, including significant change in some domains, year levels and in some jurisdictions, and this is to be welcomed. If this improvement can be replicated across more domains, years and states, then a lift in average results nationally will be seen.”

“Each year, as the My School website is updated, we can see improvements being made in many schools across the country,” Mr Randall continued. “The ongoing challenge for all involved in education is to learn from this success and turn this into improved literacy and numeracy outcomes for more students in more schools.

”Mr Randall said that when NAPLAN moves online from 2018, it will result in better assessment, more precise results and a faster turnaround of information.

“We anticipate that the tailored testing and online presentation will better engage students and provide an opportunity for them to better demonstrate their individual skills in literacy and numeracy.”

To view the NAPLAN 2017 summary information, visit the NAP website.