ACARA news, August 2015

ACARA releases Corporate Plan

31 August 2015

31 August 2015

ACARA has released its Corporate Plan for 2015–16.

ACARA’s Chair, Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz, AM, says: “Over the course of the following five years, I am confident that the Australian public will see significant progress in relation to each of the authority’s programs of work … and that these efforts will in turn make an important contribution to improving educational outcomes across Australia".

Read ACARA’s Corporate Plan (PDF 1.8 mb)

National Literacy and Numeracy Week 2015

31 August 2015

National Literacy and Numeracy Week will be held from 31 August to 6 September 2015. The Week celebrates the importance of literacy and numeracy skills in schools across Australia and aligns with other important events, including Indigenous Literacy Day on Wednesday 2 September. ACARA encourages teachers, parents, schools and students to get involved in National Literacy and Numeracy Week activities.

Good literacy and numeracy are fundamental to a child’s learning and development. That’s why NAPLAN is so important for today’s students: it tests these skills in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students to see if they are meeting important literacy and numeracy standards.

Read more on the National Literacy and Numeracy Week website

The Australian: 'Busting the NAPLAN myths'

31 August 2015

Justine Ferrari from The Australian writes about the upcoming NAPLAN tests, sharing her and her daughter's experience.

Read the full article (subscription required).

ACARA rejects conclusions of Whitlam Report

31 August 2015
ACARA disagrees with the conclusions of the Whitlam Institute report (due to be released 20 May). The conclusions do not reflect the discussion in the report and appear to be based on poorly constructed questions and unclear interview protocols. There is evidence contained in the report that is not reflected in the conclusions, for example: 50 per cent of teachers say that NAPLAN information is useful. There are nine ways in which NAPLAN data have been used to help schools make judgements on curriculum and teaching style. 70 per cent of parents surveyed believed the information provided by NAPLAN to be useful. 50 per cent of parent respondents viewed NAPLAN positively. Principals also provided useful examples where they were using NAPLAN to drive school improvement. While ACARA welcomes any feedback which is directed at improving NAPLAN, this report is unhelpful as it continues to perpetuate myths and inaccuracies about NAPLAN. Beyond the headline seeking conclusions in the report, some of the data in the body of the report will be useful and can guide continuous improvement for NAPLAN. NAPLAN looks at what level students are achieving in literacy and numeracy against the national standard and compared with their peers throughout Australia. Schools and governments can then provide support where it is most needed. NAPLAN is not high-stakes for students. NAPLAN is not pass or fail. It has no immediate consequences for children. It benefits students by identifying areas for development. Read the full ACARA statement Read statements made about NAPLAN

The Australian Financial Review: 'Literacy, numeracy and the big transition'

31 August 2015

Alan Michell, the Australian Financial Review, reflects on how the future of Australia is connected to the nation's literacy and numeracy skills.

Read the full article (subscription required)

NAPLAN: looking to the future

26 August 2015

"Educators have an obligation to prepare children not only for the world that is here, but also for the world that is coming," says ACARA CEO, Robert Randall.

Read the full opinion piece in The Educator. 

Technology: an integral part of the future

26 August 2015

When used properly, technology has helped to refine and improve every industry that operates today. It has allowed the society to adapt and respond to demands of the modernising and maturing world. Across industries, technology has simplified complex activities and significantly reduced time spent on others. It has dramatically changed how people interact with each other and brought families living apart or across the world into closer contact. It has transformed many sectors for the better for everyone; banking, travel and telecommunications are great examples.

Across the years, accepting and adapting to technology has made life simpler and better. While there are some who continue to bemoan the downsides and highlight the negatives of technology, for the most part they are narrow complaints made by people yearning for the time that no longer exists. They are people naively comparing how they grew up with what they see today.

We tolerate their position that the past was better than what they see now. However, calling for a slow-down or restriction on the take-up and use of technology puts these people at odds with a generation of children who are growing up surrounded by technology and the need to know how to use it. And if we do as they want, it is Australian children who will become marginalised as the world marches on without them.

People discuss building an education system for the 21st century. At ACARA, we are looking further – to a world that does not yet exist but most certainly includes technology as its basis. We have an obligation to prepare children for the world that is here and the world that is coming – not for the world that people wish they were still living in.

Read more:

the Future of Work report by the Foundation for Young Australians (PDF 3.45 mb)

the New Work Order press-release by the Foundation for Young Australians (PDF 194 kb)

Research to support NAPLAN online commences

21 August 2015

Federal, state and territory education ministers have agreed that NAPLAN will move online from 2017, over a two–three year period. ACARA is responsible for developing the NAPLAN online test and is undertaking comprehensive research and trialling to make sure we are all ready to move NAPLAN online.

From 24 August 2015, a sample of students across the nation will take part in two research studies in an online environment. In the first study, students will trial a set of new reading, numeracy, spelling, grammar and punctuation questions, including a number of innovative questions, only made possible using an online environment. In the second study, researchers will focus on how students are using different devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, tablets with keyboards) to engage with online test questions. Results from this study will help ACARA to ensure that when NAPLAN goes online it meets the needs of all students, regardless of device. Responding to a writing task using a device will be part of both studies.

Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 from a sample of 195 government, Catholic and independent schools across metropolitan, rural and remote locations from around the country will be involved in these research studies. Over the past six months, ACARA has been engaged in a range of preparatory activities to ensure that these research studies run smoothly. ACARA has worked with states and territories to enable school participation, and we have partnered with Education Services Australia to allow the online tests to be taken on the new online testing platform. ACARA appreciates the participation of these schools. Their involvement and the results from their trialling will provide valuable guidance to us as we work to move NAPLAN online and ensure it will provide a better assessment, more precise results and faster turnaround of information.

For further information or if you have any questions about NAPLAN online, email [email protected] or follow us on Facebook and Twitter (ACARAeduau). Alert us to your questions using the handle @ACARAeduau and tag #naplanonline

New app to engage parents

21 August 2015

A new mobile app, which encourages parents to become more involved in their children’s education, is now available to download free on Apple and Android devices. Developed by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, in consultation with ACARA, the app offers access to articles and informative videos, as well as practical tips and suggestions for parents of children from pre-primary to high school.

Webinar on the Review of the Australian Curriculum

21 August 2015

ACARA’s General Manager, Curriculum, Dr Phil Lambert, recently participated in a webinar presentation to Australian Publishers Association members about ACARA’s actions in responding to the Review of the Australian Curriculum.

View the webinar.

Designing lessons for gifted and talented students

13 August 2015

Teachers of gifted and talented students can access relevant and engaging materials that are drawn from the Australian Curriculum.

Illustrations of Personalised Learning are a suite of materials that show how teachers can use the Australian Curriculum to make adjustments for gifted and talented students. Illustrations of Personalised Learning comprise a video showcasing a particular school’s approach, along with additional resources for teachers including the relevant references to the Australian Curriculum, questions for staff discussion and program documents.

The purpose of Illustrations is to provide advice on how teachers can use flexible design of the Australian Curriculum to meet the individual learning needs of gifted and talented students, and make necessary adjustments to meet students’ individual learning needs. Each illustration of personalised learning (for Year 2 and Year 5) demonstrates how a teacher accesses the curriculum to plan quality teaching and learning programs for their gifted and talented students.

You can see the Illustrations of Personalised Learning, including the videos, on the Australian Curriculum website.

The Australian Curriculum website: tell us what you think

12 August 2015

We are currently undertaking a user survey of the Australian Curriculum website and we want to hear from you!

With over 18 million page views last year, the Australian Curriculum website is a popular place to visit. We want you to tell us what you like about it, what you don’t like, and how we could go about improving it.

The survey will be open until 30 September and will only take a few minutes.

View the survey

NAPLAN 2015 individual student reports

11 August 2015

NT          Delivery from Monday 3 August, with all reports in schools no later than week
               commencing Monday 24 August

Qld         First mail-out from Monday 27 July, with bulk of reports expected in schools by
               Wednesday 5 August, remote schools by Friday 14 August

SA          Delivery to schools between Friday 14 August and Friday 21 August

Tas.        Reports expected in schools by Monday 17 August

Vic.         Distribution of reports from week commencing Monday 17 August

WA         Distribution of reports from week commencing Monday 17 August

NSW      Delivery commences on Tuesday 18 August 2015, with all reports expected to
               be in schools by Friday 21 August

ACT       All reports will be delivered to schools by Friday 21 August

The Australian Curriculum – setting expectations for all young Australians

07 August 2015

The Australian Curriculum sets the expectations for what all young Australians should be taught, regardless of where in Australia they live. It means that students now have access to the same content, and their achievements can be judged against the same standards. The Australian Curriculum gives teachers stability to focus on the quality of their teaching, while being a living document that can evolve and change.

For over two decades Australia has been moving towards a national approach to schooling, including a national curriculum. After all this time, and through collaborative efforts led by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and involving all Australian states and territories, the first truly Australian Curriculum is available for use in Australian schools.

It is a world-class national curriculum built on the best state and territory curricula and shaped by comparison with the best from overseas.

But curriculum is only one part of the story of school learning. The Australian Curriculum does not specify how the content must be taught. Schools and teachers still make decisions about how they organise learning, which means they can teach the curriculum in accordance with requirements and needs of their school and individual students. It is in the hands of teachers that the Australian Curriculum comes alive and they make the expert decisions about the learning experiences each student needs to succeed.

The content descriptions in each learning area outline what all students should be taught, and the achievement standards for each year or bands of years indicate the levels of achievement that are expected. But the Australian Curriculum also provides additional guidance and ideas for teachers to assist them to understand and implement the curriculum. This is through additional information including content elaborations and student work samples.

The curriculum development process used by ACARA is national and rigorous drawing on the best national talent and expertise to develop the curriculum. Each learning area and subject take between two and three years to develop. ACARA draws on this national expertise to draft the curriculum and we consult extensively with teachers, principals, state and territory education authorities, professional education associations, business, industry, community groups, the general public and all governments in an open and transparent process.

In each area, ACARA develops shape papers and then the draft curriculum, which are published online. A 10–12 week period provides an opportunity for any member of the public to view, initially, the draft shape papers and then the draft curriculum, and provide feedback.

For example, over the course of consultation for Foundation – Year 12 English, mathematics, science, history and geography, ACARA received almost 12,000 submissions from individuals, groups and organisations. Over the course of consultation period for the arts, health and physical education, economics and business, and civics and citizenship, ACARA received nearly 5,000 submissions.

Australia’s Education Council, comprising the nine federal, state and territory education ninisters, has the final say on whether the curriculum is ready for states and territories to implement.

Once the curriculum is endorsed, states and territories of Australia set the timeline for implementation of the Australian Curriculum for their schools. The Foundation – Year 10 Australian Curriculum for English, mathematics, science and history has been steadily introduced across states and territories since 2011. In 2014 all states and territories are implementing Australian Curriculum in these areas. Progress is being made to implement Australian Curriculum for other areas across states and territories.

The Australian Curriculum is available online for everyone to see. Visit the Australian Curriculum website for further information.

We know we have not yet seen the true benefits of the national curriculum. It is only in July 2014 that Australia made education history by completing curriculum across all eight learning areas, the final area being languages. And from 2016, the Australian National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) will be directly linked to the Australian Curriculum: English and mathematics. This connection between curriculum and assessment, will allow for ongoing analysis about what is being taught and how well young people are learning vitally important literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills.

Following the Australian Government’s review of the Australian Curriculum, the Education Council asked ACARA to make improvements to the Australian Curriculum with a focus on four themes: uncrowding the curriculum, rebalancing the curriculum, accessibility of the curriculum for students with disabilities, and increasing parent engagement with the curriculum.

ACARA has been working on actions to address these themes and manage perceptions of volume and manageability, especially in the primary years. We have been collaborating with writers and a sample of practising teachers to propose improvements to the Australian Curriculum, and these were recently approved by the ACARA Board and will be provided to the Education Council in September for endorsement.

At ACARA, we are confident that young people and the nation are better off as a result of the work done by tens of thousands of people during the last few years. The Australian Curriculum, along with our national assessment and reporting programs, are the foundations for improving learning outcomes for all young Australians, regardless of where they live or the socio-educational advantages or disadvantage they may have.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is an independent statutory authority that will improve the learning of all young Australians through world-class school curriculum, assessment and reporting.

Improving the Australian Curriculum

07 August 2015

ACARA is seeking to improve the learning of all young Australians through the development of a national curriculum. Work is underway to improve the Australian Curriculum, addressing themes endorsed by the Education Council. These themes are: uncrowding the curriculum; rebalancing the curriculum; improving accessibility for students with disability; and parental engagement.

ACARA is undertaking a program of work of developing, consulting and seeking agreement in relation to proposed actions. This includes undertaking targeted consultation with key stakeholders, including state and territory curriculum, and school authorities and practising teachers, around any changes.

See our new factsheet on what ACARA is doing to address themes to improve the Australian Curriculum (PDF 185 kb)

Statement from Professor Steven Schwartz, AM, ACARA Chair: Improving the Australian Curriculum

07 August 2015

The Australian Curriculum sets high expectations for students to aspire to, wherever they live in Australia. Our national assessment programs measure whether students are meeting these high standards and show us where learning needs to improve. Changes have been made to the Australian Curriculum following its review and will be submitted to the Education Council in September. The curriculum will continue to be monitored and maintained to ensure it is up to date for the benefit of all Australian students.

NAPLAN 2015 results: some improvements, time to reflect

05 August 2015

Today ACARA has released the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) 2015 summary information.

Overall, the results from the NAPLAN tests in May show stable national achievement, as well as some improvements nationally and in each state and territory (for some year levels and some domains).

ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, says that while stability is good, parents and educators may expect more improvement over time.

“Improvement in NAPLAN results comes about when student learning improves. Literacy and numeracy are the foundations of learning at and beyond school. If student knowledge, skills and understanding are not improving in these areas, it is a cause for reflection,” Mr Randall says.

NAPLAN, the annual literacy and numeracy assessments for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, were held between 12 and 14 May this year. These results are being released two weeks earlier than last year, and six weeks earlier than previous years, building on the Australian Government’s commitment for a faster turnaround of NAPLAN results.

During August 2015, state and territory test administration authorities will be releasing individual student reports to schools for distribution to parents.

Read the NAPLAN 2015 summary information on the NAP website

Read ACARA’s media release (PDF 57 kb)


Read the open letter from ACARA CEO, Robert Randall (PDF 177 kb)

Read minister Pyne's media release

Parents to receive NAPLAN 2015 individual student reports this month

05 August 2015

The NAPLAN 2015 summary information has been released today and parents of students who participated in this year’s NAPLAN will start receiving their individual student reports this month. ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, has penned an open letter encouraging parents and carers to keep the reports in context.

“NAPLAN provides information on your child’s literacy and numeracy achievement and summarises information for all children at a school, state and national level,” Mr Randall says. “It helps you to know how well your child is achieving in literacy and numeracy and track them against students in the same year level across Australia.

“Evidence shows that a well-rounded education, including the pursuit of other activities such as sport and art, contributes to the development of literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills. All activities are crucial to the school program as they help develop informed, happy children who are confident in their own abilities.”

Read the open letter from ACARA CEO, Robert Randall (PDF 177 kb)

Read the NAPLAN 2015 parent brochure (PDF 425 kb)