ACARA news, January 2015

Sydney Symphony Orchestra teaches the teachers

28 January 2015

Earlier this month 50 NSW primary school teachers took part in TunED-UP!, a five day residency program run by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) to support primary teachers in up-skilling and delivering music education in their classrooms and schools.

The privately funded program was piloted by the SSO in 2014 and delivered to 25 primary school teachers. This year, participants doubled to 50 teachers over two weeks. ACARA’s senior project officer for the arts curriculum, Linda Lorenza, attended the program and discussed the Australian Curriculum: music with the participants.

What do students learn about Australia Day?

23 January 2015

On 26 January we celebrate what’s great about being Australian.

With students in NSW, NT, Queensland, SA and Victoria returning to school on 27 January, and the rest of the country – the following week, it’s timely to take a look at what the Australian Curriculum includes – particularly in relation to significant days like Australia Day.

In the Australian Curriculum: history, students in Years 3–10 learn about Australia’s heritage, values and significant achievements as a nation. Along with the curriculum content, students develop historical inquiry skills. This enables them to explore the significance of Australia Day through sources such as artefacts, museums, historical sites, digital collections and hands-on activities.

See the Australian Curriculum website for more information.

20150123 Happy Australia Day

NAPLAN writing test enhanced to include two prompts

22 January 2015

This year’s NAPLAN writing assessment will have two writing prompts – one for Years 3 and 5, and a different prompt for Years 7 and 9 – instead of the previous single prompt for all year levels.

“NAPLAN is an evolving assessment and ACARA continually works to identify improvements to the assessment model,” says Dr Stanley Rabinowitz, General Manager of Assessment and Reporting at ACARA.

For several years ACARA has been looking at the success of setting one writing task for all students from Year 3 to Year 9 (from 8–9-year-olds to 14–15-year-olds). The change has been made following consultation with content and assessment experts, as well as with state and territory representatives and other educators and researchers.

These experts looked at data from the last few years, including the 2014 data when we saw a downward trend in persuasive writing achievement, compared to 2011 and to 2013, and concluded that the NAPLAN writing assessment would be better served by two writing prompts, one for Years 3 and 5 and a different one for Years 7 and 9.

“Having two prompts will enable better questions to be set. More age-appropriate writing prompts will better ensure all students have the opportunity to produce their best writing,” says Dr Rabinowitz.

The move to two prompts should have no impact on how teachers prepare their students for the NAPLAN writing test, with students still required to write the same sorts of responses. Both writing prompts will be on the same type of text – either narrative or persuasive – students will not have a choice of genre. The genre will be revealed on the day of assessment. The curriculum requires students to learn about imaginative, informative and persuasive texts. Through these types of texts students learn to write to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue.

This enhancement is complemented by the move to NAPLAN online from 2017, which will provide better assessment, more precise results and a faster turnaround of information.

For more information, visit the National Assessment Program website.

Join the EdFest virtual conference

22 January 2015

On 27 January 2015 EdFest – a free national virtual conference – will be filmed and streamed live in the Scootle Lounge. The event will run from 9 am to 4 pm AEDT and will feature 11 half-an-hour presentations on Australian Curriculum implementation and contemporary models for learning. See the full EdFest program.

From 9.30 am, ACARA’s Laraine Lucas and Joanna Mackie will be presenting a session on the Australian Curriculum website – previewing the latest resources and demonstrating functionality of the site. The session will assist teachers in planning and using the Australian Curriculum.

From 1.30 pm, Laraine will present a session on the series of teacher vignettes that will soon be available on the Australian Curriculum website, showcasing the different approaches schools are taking in managing the Australian Curriculum at school level. This session aims to inspire teachers collect ideas and do an audit of their own progress.

New year, new job?

16 January 2015

We currently have two vacancies at ACARA for the roles of project officer, National Assessment Program, sample assessment (Perth) and senior project officer, humanities and social sciences (Sydney).

Applications close on 27 January 2015. See the 'Employment' page for more information.