ACARA news, July 2017

Making Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures a curriculum priority

31 July 2017

Programming humanoid robots and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures are rarely combined into one lesson in the classroom.

But at Maitland Lutheran School in South Australia, students have been learning the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies by teaching a humanoid robot how to speak the sleeping language of their local Aboriginal community. “We have a fairly high Indigenous student population in our school, about 20 per cent,” Maitland Lutheran School teacher, Scott Carson, said.

“We decided to do something quite out of the box, in combining Narungga language and culture with a robotics program from the Digital Technologies curriculum.”

The school is one of seven featured in a series of short videos, or illustrations of practice, that have been released today by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, these videos show how the Australian Curriculum’s cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures may be implemented in a variety of school settings.

“The Australian Curriculum is a national curriculum for every child, no matter where they are in the country,” ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, said. “There are three main components that make up the Australian Curriculum: learning areas (subjects), general capabilities (such as Critical and Creative Thinking, and ICT Capability) and cross-curriculum priorities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is one of three cross-curriculum priorities.”

The videos released today feature creative programs incorporating learning areas such as History, Languages and Science, in metropolitan and rural schools with high, medium and low percentages of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander students.

“These illustrations of practice are a valuable resource for all teachers from any school – whether urban or remote – and for all students,” Mr Randall said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students should be able to see themselves, their identities and their cultures reflected in the Australian Curriculum, just like their non-Aboriginal and non-Torres Strait Islander peers, to fully participate in the curriculum and build their self-esteem.”

Among other illustrations of practice videos are Year 8 students from Queensland exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ skills in fire-making; and Years 3 and 4 students exploring the impact of colonisation on Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples.

To view all the illustrations of practice, or to learn more about cross-curriculum priorities, visit the Australian Curriculum website.

Schools test readiness for NAPLAN Online

28 July 2017

In August and September, schools around the country will have an opportunity to assess their readiness to move to NAPLAN Online in 2018. The school readiness test aims to ensure each school is prepared to undertake NAPLAN Online and has sufficient bandwidth and wireless connectivity. The test will give state and territory education authorities valuable feedback about the extent of school readiness to undertake NAPLAN Online from 2018.

Teachers will practise managing the classroom logistics for an online assessment as well as the processes for administering the test.

Schools across Australia will start to go online from 2018 on an opt-in basis. State and territory education authorities are responsible for determining when their state/territory moves to NAPLAN Online. These education authorities are preparing schools for the move from the current paper-based NAPLAN tests to online-based assessments, supporting schools with a variety of readiness tools, activities and training, including this readiness test exercise for selected schools.

“States and territories have previously undertaken trialling in preparation for the move to NAPLAN Online,” ACARA CEO Robert Randall said. “During August 2016, students from more than 1,000 selected schools across the country took part in a trial of the assessment platform for NAPLAN Online. Feedback received from the 2016 trial was generally positive and will be used together with this year’s readiness testing to ensure schools have a smooth transition.”

NAPLAN Online will allow for a wider range of question types and a broader range of skills to be assessed. It will also feature tailored testing, where the test automatically responds to student performance, providing more, or less, demanding questions based on how a student has gone in previous sections. This means that NAPLAN Online will provide more precise results and a more engaging test experience for students.

When NAPLAN moves online, test results will also be available within weeks instead of several months under current arrangements. This will assist teachers to identify learning priorities and meet individual student needs earlier than with the current NAPLAN paper tests.

As technology develops, ACARA aims to further refine the delivery of the tests to best use the available technology as well as to provide increasingly sophisticated assessments and valuable feedback to teachers, parents and education authorities.  

Significant planning, development, research and trialling have been ongoing since 2012 to support the move to NAPLAN Online. ACARA has established a demonstration site to help students and teachers familiarise themselves with NAPLAN Online, as well as the types of items to be included in the online tests. The public demonstration site is available at

ACARA and Education Services Australia are working with the Australian Government and all states and territories on the move to NAPLAN Online. States and territories are responsible for preparing schools for NAPLAN Online and selecting schools for readiness testing. 

Release of new data on the National Report on Schooling Data Portal

19 July 2017

ACARA’s interactive resource, the National Report on Schooling Data Portal, has today been updated with available 2016 data. This includes key performance measure data and data on schools and schooling such as: 

  • school numbers, student numbers and staff numbers
  • student–teacher ratios
  • school funding
  • enrolment rates
  • student attendance. 

Charts and tables on the data portal enable users to filter data by state, school sector, school level, type, Indigeneity and other measures. 

The information accessed through the portal is updated twice a year to provide users with the latest information possible. 

See the National Report on Schooling Data Portal on the ACARA website.

New-look Australian Curriculum website launched

12 July 2017

Today the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has released a revamped Australian Curriculum website.

“The Australian Curriculum website is a popular resource, but it has been around for a few years in its current form. We have listened to user feedback and we hope users will like the fresh look and a new ‘filter’ option on the home page, which makes content easier to find,” said ACARA CEO, Robert Randall.

ACARA is responsible for the Australian Curriculum, a curriculum for all schools across the nation. The Australian Curriculum ensures that every child, wherever they live or whichever school they attend, has access to the same world-class curriculum. 

The new website features: an updated look and feel, content that is easier to find through a new ‘filter’ option on the homepage, and greater prominence of parent information and student diversity information on the home page. There is no change to the actual curriculum, just how it is presented.

The website will retain its current address of and all links to curriculum and resources will be maintained through automatic redirects. If you are using a mobile device, you may need to clear the cache to access the updated site

Coming soon – a new-look Australian Curriculum website!

06 July 2017

Next week we will be releasing a new-look Australian Curriculum website. We have listened to feedback and hope you will enjoy the enhancements to the site. These improvements include a fresh look and feel, and a new ‘filter’ option on the home page that will make content easier to find.

There is no change to the actual curriculum, just how it is presented. The website will retain its current address all links to curriculum and resources will be maintained through automatic redirects.

Users of the older version (7.5) of the Australian Curriculum will still be available to access this by going to a link on the homepage. Version 7.5 of the Australian Curriculum will only be available until the end of 2017.

A preview of the new site:

AC website  - Landing page sample

ACARA’s use of contractors for NAPLAN

04 July 2017

An article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald refers to the use of contractors for the development and administration of NAPLAN. As with many projects of such size and scale, ACARA uses a number of contractors to undertake specialised work whilst ensuring best value for government money.

Processes for awarding contracts follow ACARA’s clearly defined procurement procedures including, where appropriate, by tender.  

ACARA maintains full and final control over all NAPLAN content, procedures and data provided to and derived by its contractors. Contractors are only able to use the data for the purpose of fulfilling their contractual obligations to ACARA; once their work is complete, all data in their possession must be destroyed.  

ACARA’s contracts require that suppliers disclose any conflicts of interest they have relating to the services provided. It is important to note that contractors must securely store and protect NAPLAN data, and ensure that only authorised officers can access NAPLAN data. Each of these officers must individually sign confidentiality and non-disclosure forms.