ACARA news, September 2020

The ‘A’ in ACARA is for ‘Authority’

28 September 2020
The fifth letter in ACARA’s name stands for ‘Authority’. Watch the last video in ACARA CEO’s web series on each letter in our name, where David takes us through what ‘A’ means, how ACARA exercises its authority and what the source of ACARA’s authority is.

New terms of use for My School

28 September 2020

ACARA has recently taken further action to discourage the creation and publication of unfair school league tables by introducing changes to the terms of use for the My School website.

The terms of use require users to explicitly agree not to create league tables or to use My School data for commercial purposes in order to access the My School website.

Users must agree to these terms and conditions every time they commence a new session. Also, they can only search five schools in one sitting before needing to confirm, via a captcha screen, they are "not a robot", which reduces the opportunities for data-scraping. 

My School provides information that helps parents and the community in understanding the performance of schools over time and contributes to national transparency and accountability. The new measures support access to this information while discouraging crude and unfair league tabling.

League tables can promote misleading comparisons that have the potential to undermine the quality of school education and they do not give a fair and accurate assessment of a school's NAPLAN performance.

This is because performance cannot be assessed just by looking at the average score of the students at the school. Such basic comparisons do not take into account levels of socio-educational advantage and they do not look at the level of student progress.

ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, said teachers and schools work hard for their students, and a school's level of achievement is determined by a wide variety of factors.

"Parents wanting information on how their school is performing in NAPLAN should not rely on league tables but instead visit the My School website and review the progress graphs for their school. The amount of progress, seen in the context of the socio-educational background of the students, indicates to parents if the school is performing well in respect of those factors that are within the school's control, such as teaching quality and leadership,” he said. "It is important to remember that NAPLAN does not measure overall school quality, and a child's teachers will have the best insights into their progress in school."

Update on the review of the F–10 Australian Curriculum

28 September 2020

Almost 360 practising teachers and curriculum specialists from across Australia have started working with ACARA on the review of the F–10 Australian Curriculum. 

Schools and teachers want a less crowded, more flexible curriculum, with scope for deeper learning. ACARA is closely consulting with our stakeholders to achieve this. Teachers and curriculum experts have been formally nominated into 18 reference groups that have already commenced their work. We are engaging with the nation’s teacher professional associations, key academics and peak bodies. ACARA also receives advice through established advisory channels, including via its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and Students with Disability advisory groups.

“It’s really wonderful to see the enthusiasm and commitment from across the education community and a special thanks to our reference group members who are providing us with great feedback as we work to ensure our curriculum is world-class,” ACARA Director of Curriculum, Janet Davy, said.

The review has been underway for 12 weeks and there is already significant interest, with the ‘Curriculum review’ webpage having attracted more than 16,000 visits to date.

In addition to the formal engagement processes, ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, has also been dropping into teacher staffroom meetings at various primary schools across Australia, listening to teachers’ views on what it is like to implement curriculum at the coalface.

Visit the ACARA’s website for more information on the review of the F–10 Australian Curriculum.

Parents learn more about NAP, NAPLAN and My School

25 September 2020

A silver lining of the COVID crisis is that the periods of remote learning have strengthened connections between parents and schools, and a rising number of parents are looking for more ways to be involved in school life.

That interest was apparent at a recent virtual workshop between ACARA's Chief Executive, David de Carvalho, and Tasmanian parents who tuned in to the online parent webinars designed to help parents and carers understand more about the National Assessment Program (NAP) and My School websites.

The pilot sessions, conducted in partnership with the Tasmanian Catholic School Parents Council, were an opportunity for school stakeholders to get together and ask questions about NAP and My School websites.

Mr de Carvalho provided an overview of the basics of NAPLAN and its purpose – not just to give important information about individual student results but also to help education authorities and stakeholders understand how students are progressing at a school, state and national level.

He also unpacked the individual student report and walked the audience through some of the resources available – such as explainer videos and the demonstration site on the NAP’s ‘Resources’ page.

The second half of the session explored the My School site and gave the audience an opportunity to see in detail the new ‘student progress’ features, which are designed to give insight into how a school is progressing over time.

The online session included ‘question and answer’ sections and parents said they welcomed the live tutorial, as it helped them better understand the data, and it would support their conversations with teachers.

Tasmanian Catholic School Parents Council
Perpetua Turner, President, and Tricia de Carlo, Administration Officer, from Tasmanian Catholic School Parents Council debrief after the second of the parent information sessions presented by ACARA