ACARA Update, June 2015
Welcome to the June issue of ACARA Update.
Earlier this month, around one million students participated in NAPLAN. Alongside some of the usual media headlines of test stress and nervousness, we also saw parents and educators voicing a good understanding and appreciation of NAPLAN including the data and reports that are produced, as well as students who were excited by the challenge and were looking forward to the tests. You can read some of these testimonials on our website. School and student results will be made available from 31 July, with the exact date for delivery of student reports varying by state and territory.
On 7 May, we farewelled Professor Barry McGaw AO, who was Chair of the Interim National Curriculum Board since 2008 and the inaugural ACARA Board Chair since 2009. We also farewelled three Board members: Tom Alegounarias, Helen Wildash and John Firth, whose terms had also come to an end. You can watch Prof. McGaw’s farewell video on our YouTube channel. Our new Chair and Board members will be announced soon.
In curriculum, we released the language curricula for Turkish and Hindi for public consultation and I encourage you to provide your feedback by 14 July. We also released a fact sheet to explain what we are doing to improve the Australian Curriculum by addressing themes endorsed by the Education Council. The first outcome of this work has been completed – you can read more below.
With the conclusion of NAPLAN for 2015, our focus continues to be on the future of these annual literacy and numeracy assessments – namely the introduction of NAPLAN online from 2017. We know there are a lot of questions about how online assessment will work, the logistics around delivering NAPLAN online and the validity and reliability of tailored testing. Some of these questions will be answered in consultation with our state and territory partners and/or with Education Services Australia. Others will be answered through various research projects that are underway to ensure we have the best possible arrangements in place for the move of NAPLAN online. We will share the results of our research in the coming months. In the meantime, see the video to find out what has been done so far.
The first step by ACARA to improve the Australian Curriculum has been completed. Following analysis, the identification of the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities on the Australian Curriculum website has been updated.
Previously, the way in which general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities were presented gave the impression of more work being required from teachers. This was one of the factors contributing to the curriculum being seen as overcrowded.
The result of this update has been general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities being more appropriately tagged in learning areas. There is now a clear distinction between those that are developed or applied specifically through the content descriptions and those where there is simply an opportunity for teachers to focus on them as suggested in the content elaborations.
We have released a fact sheet to explain what we are doing to improve the Australian Curriculum by addressing themes endorsed by the Education Council.
Click on the imabe to view the full version (PDF 832 kb)
Language curricula for Turkish and Hindi have been released for public consultation. You can find the language curricula and provide feedback on the curricula at the Australian Curriculum: consultation website.
Eleven languages have been released as a part of the Australian Curriculum: languages (Chinese, French, Indonesian and Italian in 2014; and more recently, Arabic, German, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese).
ACARA’s CEO, Robert Randall, said today: “When students learn another language, they become better communicators, both in their first language and in the language they are learning. Learning a language will also help young people to improve their understanding and appreciation of the world in which they live. It allows students to develop deeper understanding of different cultures and, in an increasingly globalised world, it should improve opportunities and employability.
“The suite of languages curricula developed by ACARA will allow young people to retain and enhance their first language, while also providing a range of choices for other students to learn a language beyond English.”
His Excellency Mr Reha Keskintepe, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Australia, said: “Language, culture and ethnicity are inherently interlinked. Children can connect best with different cultures, their family, history, identity and religion through language. With 150,000 Australians of Turkish origin, we acknowledge ACARA's valuable efforts to include the Turkish language in the Australian national curriculum”.
Additional language curricula still to be developed are AUSLAN, Classical Greek and Latin.
How do you get students more engaged with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects? The study of STEM subjects allows students to apply a wide range of computational and analytical skills to contemporary and emerging information systems and practices.
Thirteen schools around the country are being supported to investigate and document an integrated approach to teaching and learning STEM in Years 9 and 10 – showing how individual subject skills can be brought together and applied to a specific school project. ACARA has partnered with the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) to support these projects and is working collaboratively to identify inter-relationships between STEM disciplines in the Australian Curriculum.
The STEM Connections project commenced in late 2014 with an introductory two-day workshop for participating teachers and leaders from the 13 schools. Teams of teachers from each school have designed and commenced a 10-week trial of integrated STEM learning. The materials and findings (including data and reports) from the project will be published on the ACARA website throughout 2015.
The 13 schools involved in the STEM Connections project include:
Heathfield High School
Simonds Catholic College – St Mary’s Years 7–10 campus
Henley High School
Plumpton High School
New South Wales
Balga High School
Duncraig Senior High School
The Canobolas Rural Technology High School
New South Wales
O’Loughlin Catholic College
St Michael’s Collegiate
Cherrybrook Technology High School
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Northcote High School
Redlynch State College
The STEM Connections project aims to support students in recognising the importance and transferability of knowledge, understanding and skills among the four subjects, aiming to:
- identify links between STEM disciplines in the Australian Curriculum
- establish a STEM online learning community for STEM teachers
- publish student work samples on the Australian Curriculum website to illustrate integration of STEM-related subjects in schools
- investigate strategies that encourage girls to remain engaged in STEM subjects.