National Report on Schooling in Australia 2013

National initiatives and achievements

2.8 Strengthening accountability and transparency

Both the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Education Agreement (NEA) emphasise transparency in reporting educational information and accountability for the use of public resources for education.

This includes reporting to families about student achievement and school performance, as well as to the Australian public on comparative school performance and the performance of Australian schooling overall.

In the Melbourne Declaration, Australian governments committed to working with all school sectors to ensure that public reporting of education:

• focuses on improving performance and student outcomes
• is both locally and nationally relevant
• is timely, consistent and comparable.

Under the NEA (government schools) and the Schools Assistance Act 2008 (non- government schools), all schools must provide plain language student reports to parents and carers, and an annual report on the school’s achievements and other contextual information must be made publicly available to their school community.

The NEA performance reporting framework also specifies the provision of:

• streamlined and consistent reports on national progress, including an annual national report on the outcomes of schooling in Australia ¹ , covering the Melbourne Declaration and the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia and the biennial COAG report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators
• national reporting on performance of individual schools to inform parents and carers and for evaluation by governments of school performance.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible for implementing the majority of national strategies for accountability and transparency, agreed by education ministers under the Melbourne Declaration.

In terms of data collection and reporting the functions of ACARA ² are to:

• collect, manage and analyse student assessment data and other data relating to schools and comparative school performance
• facilitate information sharing arrangements between Australian government bodies in relation to the collection, management and analysis of school data

publish information relating to school education, including information relating to comparative school performance.

ACARA's priorities under its charter include: the monitoring and review of the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia, which sets out agreed national key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling; producing a comprehensive and authoritative National Report on Schooling in Australia related to the Melbourne Declaration and national KPMs; developing, or supporting the development of, national definitions and managing the collection, quality assurance and reporting of school information through the My School website.

Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia

In 2012, ACARA, in consultation with jurisdictions, school sectors and relevant government agencies, conducted a review of the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia. This review coincided with a review of the NEA performance reporting framework. The revised Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012, reflects revisions to the NEA indicators and was published on the ACARA website in early 2013 following its approval by education ministers.

National Report on Schooling in Australia

In 2013, ACARA published the National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011 on behalf of the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) ³, and undertook the preparation of the National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012 in consultation with representatives of state and territory education authorities, other government agencies, and non-government school sectors. The 2012 report was the twenty-fourth annual national report on schooling and the fourth to be published by ACARA.

Development of national definitions and measures

At the direction of COAG and SCSEEC, ACARA undertook work on new national definitions and measures for senior secondary outcomes. These measures were intended to supplement existing measures of progress towards COAG targets for the completion of Year 12, or equivalent, using administrative data. This work was undertaken in collaboration with jurisdictions and school sectors.

In 2012, SCSEEC acknowledged the importance to schools, schooling systems and jurisdictional authorities of gathering and analysing school opinion information. Ministers approved the use of agreed student and parent survey items, and made provision for a national survey and data collection tool that schools could use to collect responses.

ACARA worked with Education Services Australia (ESA) and representatives of jurisdictions and the non-government school sectors to develop specifications for this tool. The School Survey website was developed by ESA on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education and was launched in August 2013.

Nationally agreed parent, staff and student satisfaction surveys are made available to schools by jurisdictions that opt to use them, either via School Survey or through locally available data collection processes. Schools and school systems may elect to use responses to these items as a basis for school satisfaction reporting required from 2014.

ACARA has also published the Data Standards Manual: Student Background Characteristics and the National Standards for Student Attendance Data Reporting to establish nationally consistent parameters for collection and reporting of education information, and to assist schools and school systems in its collection.

My School

ACARA is also responsible for the national data collection on individual schools housed on the My School website. My School reporting demonstrates education ministers’ commitment to establish fair, public, comparable national reporting on individual school performance and fulfils the requirement under the NEA to report on performance of individual schools to support school evaluation, accountability, resource allocation and policy development.

Launched in January 2010, the My School website introduced a new level of transparency and accountability to schooling in Australia by providing extensive information on approximately 9,500 schools.

The website includes a profile of each school, and data on enrolment, attendance, staff numbers and senior secondary outcomes, as well as summary data on performance in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Enhanced versions of My School, released in 2011 and 2012, provided additional data on schools’ recurrent income and capital expenditure and on Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Schools and depicted students’ gains in literacy and numeracy between NAPLAN tests. These data are provided, directly or indirectly, by jurisdictions, non-government school authorities and individual schools.

The My School website introduced the index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA), developed specifically for the purpose of identifying schools serving similar student populations. This enables students’ results on NAPLAN tests to be understood in a fair and meaningful way, and allows schools seeking to improve their students’ performance to learn from other schools with statistically similar populations.

The fourth version of My School was launched in March 2013, making up to five years of performance data available for each school for the first time.

National Assessment Program reporting

As well as reporting NAPLAN results for each school on the My School website, ACARA is responsible for national reporting to the Australian public on the outcomes of the National Assessment Program. The NAPLAN National Report 2013 is published, along with previous reports for 2008–2012, on the ACARA National Assessment Program website. The report provides disaggregation of NAPLAN results including breakdowns by state and territory, sex, language background, Indigenous status, geolocation and parental education and occupation.

The ‘Results’ page of the NAPLAN website allows users interactive access to national NAPLAN data for 2008–2013 and the opportunity to download customised tables, including time series. Results may be selected by state and territory, gender, Indigenous status, language background other than English status, geolocation (metropolitan, provincial, remote and very remote), parental occupation and parental education at each year level and for each domain of the test.

Further information about NAPLAN for parents, schools and students is also available on the NAPLAN website. This includes information on NAPLAN tests and on the individual student reports provided to the parents/carers of all students who participate in the NAPLAN tests.

Public and technical reports for the NAP sample assessments in Science Literacy, Civics and Citizenship, and Information and Communications Technology are also available on the reports page of the National Assessment Program website. The public report on the 2012 NAP – Science Literacy assessment was released in December 2013. Reports for the NAP sample assessment in Civics and Citizenship, conducted in 2013, will be published in 2014.

Further information on the NAP is provided in Part 2.6: National initiatives and achievements – Promoting world-class curriculum and assessment, and Part 5: Student achievement – National Assessment Program.

¹ The National Report on Schooling in Australia, that is, this report.

² Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority Act (2008), Section 6. ACARA’s role in developing the Australian Curriculum and administering the National Assessment Program is outlined in Part 2.6 National initiatives and achievements: Promoting world-class curriculum and assessment.

³ from July 2014 known as Education Council.

Back to top