ACARA news, July 2015

Queensland: individual student reports posted to schools from 27 July

27 July 2015

ACARA commends the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) on its decision to release NAPLAN individual student reports to schools from 27 July. The early distribution of individual student reports provides parents and carers with an opportunity to identify their child’s strengths and achievements in the areas of literacy and numeracy, and identify any areas where attention is required. This builds on the Australian Government’s commitment for faster turnaround of NAPLAN results.

This early return of reports to parents in Queensland builds on the release of ‘raw’ NAPLAN data by the QCAA to schools at the commencement of Term 3. The raw data provide schools with an opportunity to immediately identify areas where students experienced difficulty, to reflect on their curriculum and teaching, and to take action to address any issues.

This year’s NAPLAN was held on 12–14 May 2015. The preliminary NAPLAN summary information will be released on 5 August on the NAP website. It is expected that other states/territories will be distributing individual student reports to parents across August and September.

ACARA welcomes research report from Grattan Institute

27 July 2015

ACARA welcomes the release of a research report from the Grattan Institute, Targeted teaching: how better data can improve every student’s learning. The research looks at how targeted teaching can enable students to reach their full potential and reinforces the importance of quality data in this process.

We agree with the general conclusions in the report and welcome the contribution that the report will make to discussion about the role of evidence and data in quality education.

The report’s authors state that NAPLAN has a ‘…vital role to play in assessing student learning’ and that ‘NAPLAN provides essential data for system monitoring. It can point to areas of strength and weakness in the classroom, and provide guidance as to where teachers should look more closely’.

ACARA appreciates the report’s commentary that, following the latest My School release, ‘the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s (ACARA) recent efforts to highlight schools where students have made the largest gains in NAPLAN is a welcome example [of recognising progress]’.

ACARA acknowledges some of the issues raised in the research report regarding NAPLAN. With the move to NAPLAN online from 2017, it is expected these matters will be addressed.


The report also acknowledges that we have ‘a strong national curriculum’. The Australian Curriculum is designed to allow teachers the flexibility to teach a range of abilities to enable us to work together to improve the learning of all young Australians.

Letter to the editor of The Australian from Steven Schwartz, Chair, ACARA

23 July 2015

naplan onlineNAPLAN testing is moving online in 2017. This is not a money-saving exercise, nor is it simply the whim of "bureaucrats and technocrats" as some critics suggest. Computerised testing is a way of making NAPLAN more timely and precise. Results will be available more rapidly and, for the first time, tests will be tailored to student ability. ACARA is currently conducting the research and planning necessary to ensure that NAPLAN tests are implemented fairly and equitably.

Some writers have expressed concern that students who are not familiar with computers may be disadvantaged when NAPLAN testing goes online. There are two possible solutions to this problem. One is to retain written tests. This does nothing to alleviate disadvantage; it simply accepts and entrenches it. The other solution to making computerised testing fair is to ensure that all students are familiar with computers. ACARA prefers the second approach because the ability to use computers is a vital skill that every student deserves to learn. This is why information technology is included in the Australian Curriculum. Implementing the curriculum will ensure that students are prepared to use computers and will not be disadvantaged when NAPLAN goes online.

Professor Steven Schwartz AM
Chair, ACARA

Read Professor Schwartz's opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph (30 July 2015)

Pre-primary – Year 10 Curriculum release for WA

21 July 2015

ACARA welcomes the Western Australian School Curriculum and Standards Authority's release of year-level syllabuses for the following pre-primary – Year 10 learning areas:

  • humanities and social sciences
  • health and physical education
  • technologies
  • the arts.

Western Australia is getting on with the implementation of the Australian Curriculum, with the expectation these new syllabuses will be implemented from 2018.

Western Australia has made some adjustments and additions to the Australian Curriculum to meet the needs and expectations of WA teachers. Such adaptation is appropriate and occurs in jurisdictions; for example, in NSW and Victoria, English, mathematics, science and history accommodate different histories and practices of each state and territory.

Read more on the WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority website

Use of My School data in the education interactive tool – Fairfax media

20 July 2015

My School was developed to provide readily accessible information about the almost 10,000 schools across Australia. One of the features of My School is its focus on enabling fair comparisons to be made between schools with the intention of celebrating success or identifying areas for improvement.

ACARA has been updating data on My School since 2008 and we now provide seven years of valuable data in one location. This allows for comparisons of results from schools with students from similar socio-educational backgrounds using the index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA). It is ICSEA that enables fair comparisons to be made between schools with statistically similar groups of students.

We believe that publication of data that enable fair comparisons is important. This facilitates open conversations and allows for the sharing of lessons and learning between educators about school achievements, and ultimately supports and drives improvement nationally.

The use of My School data by Fairfax media to develop the ‘School Report 2015’ has not been approved by ACARA. However, it is noted that Fairfax has taken some steps to alert users of its tool of the possibility of unfair comparisons with the ICSEA value for the schools predominantly displayed in the school comparisons. Users of the site should note this to ensure fair comparisons are made between schools.

Find out more information about ICSEA

NAPLAN reports: key dates infographic

15 July 2015

Ever wondered how the process works – from our students taking the NAPLAN tests, to those school-wide data being uploaded on to the My School website?

Take a look at our updated infographic (PDF 228 kb) that shows this timeline.

Reminder: Hindi and Turkish language curricula consultation closes tomorrow

13 July 2015

National public consultation on the draft Australian Curriculum: Languages for Hindi and Turkish closes tomorrow, 14 July 2015.

The curriculum documents are available to view online on the Australian Curriculum consultation portal and feedback can be provided via registering on thewebsite or by contacting the languages team at [email protected].

ACARA greatly values the feedback provided during public consultation and encourages participation from all stakeholders in this important stage of the curriculum development process. The feedback received will be used to inform revisions to the draft curricula for ACARA Board and ministerial endorsement prior to publication on the Australian Curriculum website in December 2015.

More information on the development of the Australian Curriculum for these subjects is available on the ACARA website.

Julie King, ACARA’s Senior Project Officer, presenting at QUEDREX

01 July 2015

ACARA’s Senior Project Officer, Technologies, Julie King, is presenting an overview of the Australian Curriculum: digital technologies at the Queensland Education Resources Expo (QUEDREX) in Brisbane on 25 and 26 July.

Visit the QUEDREX website for more information.

Reminder: Hindi and Turkish language curricula

01 July 2015

The public consultation period for Hindi and Turkish language curricula closes on 14 July.

Visit the Australian Curriculum: Consultation website to review the curricula and provide feedback.