ACARA Update

31 August 2016

Release of further work samples to interactive platform

New work samples for The Arts: Dance, Drama, Media Arts and Music, for Foundation – Year 2, Years 3–4 and Years 5–6, Health and PE for Years 7–8 and 9–10 as well as Work Studies Years 9 and 10 are now available on the Australian Curriculum website’s work samples interactive platform.

Work samples portfolios show student achievement of curriculum standards for above, at and below satisfactory levels. The portfolios support teachers and schools to make balanced judgements of student performance over time, in relation to the relevant achievement standard.

The new work samples add to those made available on the interactive platform in June 2016 – Visual Arts, Digital Technologies, Design and Technologies, and Health and Physical Education for Foundation – Year 2, Years 3–4 and Years 5–6.

Previously work samples were available in PDF format only. Now, work samples portfolios are published on the Australian Curriculum: work samples new interactive website. This new interactivity will allow the user to compare work samples that are above, at and below satisfactory more easily. 

Work sample portfolios will continue to be rolled out every two months until December this year.

Portfolios have been selected, annotated and reviewed by classroom teachers and curriculum experts. 

STEM projects show value of bringing subjects together

Last year, ACARA partnered with the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) to investigate how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education can be better delivered in schools.

Thirteen schools around the country were supported to develop integrated projects, bringing together the STEM subjects. The projects aimed to identify explicit connections for students between classroom learning in STEM and future work/learning opportunities. 

STEM in the playground 

One example saw an innovative new playground design for Cherrybrook Technology High School – a direct result of the school’s STEM project. Students managed every aspect of the design, could justify their design on scientific and mathematical grounds and used sophisticated technology tools to present it to the best effect. The project was a classic example of successful STEM integration. A report on this study is available on the 'Information materials' page of the ACARA website.

Illustrations of practice and student work samples have now been published on the Australian Curriculum website to illustrate integration of STEM-related subjects in schools. 

New maths resource released

Teachers who want support to implement the proficiencies in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics have some additional guidance with the release by ACARA of a new mathematics resource.

The four proficiency areas students are expected to develop in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics – understanding, fluency, problem-solving and reasoning – are explored in this new resource. 

The resource provides illustrations of practice and student work samples, gathered from a number primary and secondary schools from different sectors across Australia; it has been designed to assist teachers to incorporate the proficiencies into teaching practice.

Development of the resource, now available on the Australian Curriculum website, was funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

ACARA corporate plan published

The ACARA Corporate Plan 2016–17 sets out the agency’s objectives and performance measures for the 2016–17 year as well as goals and priorities for the next four years. It contains an overview by the Chair of the ACARA Board, outlines the agency’s purpose and key areas of focus, operating environment, capabilities, risk oversight and accountability.

The corporate plan is ACARA’s principal planning document; it is published in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.Visit the 'Publications' page of the ACARA website to see the ACARA Corporate Plan 2016–17.

NAPLAN online trials and studies

In preparation for NAPLAN moving online from 2017, several trials and studies are being conducted in schools across Australia this August and September. ACARA is conducting an item trial, a scaling study and a linking study, while states and territories are conducting platform trial and readiness tests (PTRT).

The ACARA trials and studies provide information required to develop the NAPLAN online 2017 test. The PTRT aims to assess technical, school and student readiness for online testing.

Item trial

The NAPLAN item trial took place between 1 and 19 August 2016.

The purpose of the item trial is to evaluate test items that may be included in future tests. The study is trialling numeracy, reading, writing and conventions of language (spelling, grammar and punctuation) in a sample of schools across Australia.

This year is the first year the item trial has been administered online, with around 180 schools participating.

Linking study and scaling study

The studies are taking place from 15 August to October 2016.

The purpose of the scaling study is to collect information about the performance of students in ACARA’s multistage adaptive tests (‘tailored tests’) to guide and support the development of the NAPLAN 2017 online tests. This study tests numeracy, reading and language conventions in a sample of schools across Australia.

The aim of the linking study is to ensure performance on paper-based tests and computer-based tests are comparable and allow the continuation of trend data across years (from 2008). All test domains (numeracy, reading, conventions of language and writing) are included in this study.

Information from the studies will also be used to pre-scale the online test in order to support the tailored tests, facilitating the fast turnaround of results.

Approximately 400 schools are scheduled to participate in the scaling study and the linking study. Initial feedback from both the item trial and linking studies is positive:

  • Teachers noted repeatedly that Year 3 and Year 5 students who were reluctant to do the NAPLAN paper tests were far more willing and even keen to participate in the online tests.
  • Older students who are familiar with the paper conventions of language NAPLAN test said that they enjoyed and were more engaged by the online test. In discussion afterwards they said they liked the audio, ‘there should be more’.
  • In one school, after Year 7 students completed two tests (reading and conventions of language), they were keen to try numeracy [test] as well – and asked why they had not been enrolled in all three tests.

Platform trial and readiness test

The platform trial and readiness test took place in August 2016.

During August 2016, students from selected schools participated in a trial of the assessment platform for NAPLAN online (platform trial and readiness test or PTRT). The students undertook one or two online readiness tests, which included examples of the full range of NAPLAN online questions and a separate writing test.

The PTRT is a ‘practice run’ of the NAPLAN online platform, providing an opportunity for schools to check whether there is suitable bandwidth capacity, wireless connectivity and whether students have access to a sufficient number of devices and are able to practice on the new technology-enhanced items.

This activity is being managed by NAPLAN online project managers and/or test administration authorities (TAAs) in states and territories, in conjunction with the NAPLAN online project management office.

Feedback from schools following the PTRT will help identify improvements required before the first online NAPLAN assessment in May 2017. Initial feedback from students, teachers, principals is positive:

  • Students engaged incredibly well, were focused and later said that they really enjoyed the experience.
    School Deputy Principal, Queensland
  • …the technology format was positive and that the students were able to relate to it better.
    Teacher, Public School, South Australia

NAPLAN video

Our new NAPLAN online video provides an overview of the transition to NAPLAN online, including timelines and new opportunities for students and teachers. Benefits of NAPLAN online include better assessment, more precise results and faster turnaround of information.