ACARA news, October 2015

World Teacher's Day 2015

30 October 2015

Today Australia celebrates World Teachers’ Day – a day to recognise the important contribution teachers around the world make to shaping our future generations.

This year’s focus is on empowering teachers and building sustainable societies – reflecting the notion that teachers are not only a means to implementing education goals. Teachers are the key to sustainability and national capacity in creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.

Read more about World Teachers’ Day around the globe.

Job opportunity: Director, Curriculum at ACARA

22 October 2015

Do you have a big picture vision for curriculum in Australia? Do you think you’ve got what it takes to provide high-quality curriculum leadership, coupled with the ability to benchmark and interpret curriculum global best practice and work in an innovative and strategic way as a member of the ACARA executive? We’d like to hear from you.

For further information and to obtain a candidate information pack, contact Jane Harlen, Odgers Berndtson:

phone: +61 2 9460 4501
email: [email protected] 

Updated Australian Curriculum website released

20 October 2015

The updated Australian Curriculum website (version 8.0) has been released today. 

Over the past 12 months, ACARA has reviewed and revised the F–10 curriculum and the way it is presented on the Australian Curriculum website. The updated website includes the improved Australian Curriculum endorsed by the Education Council on 18 September 2015. See our news item about the improvements to the curriculum.

All learning areas and subjects that were previously listed on the Australian Curriculum as ‘available for use, subject to endorsement’ are now endorsed.

The previous version (version 7.5) of the Australian Curriculum will continue to be available until the end of 2016 to allow for a transition period. The homepage of the Australian Curriculum website will allow users to choose which version they wish to access.

The implementation of endorsed curriculum is a matter for state and territory school and curriculum authorities – they decide when and how the Australian Curriculum is implemented in their state or territory.

Find information on the changes to the Australian Curriculum on the updated Australian Curriculum website: ‘What’s changed in version 8.0’.

Note: The Australian Curriculum app will continue to deliver version 7.5 of the curriculum. Version 8.0 has been designed to be accessible for using mobile devices. There are no plans at this stage to upgrade the Australian Curriculum app. Printing of the Australian Curriculum will initially be restricted to PDF. During November 2015, MS Word-enabled printing will also become available.

Review of ACARA by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training

20 October 2015

The ACARA Board acknowledges that the Review of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority departmental report by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

Under legislation, this review of ACARA is required to be undertaken six years after the establishment of the organisation.

The report recognises that in the first six years of operation through national collaboration, ACARA has achieved a great deal in the priority areas of world-class school curriculum, assessment and reporting. This is further evidenced in the stakeholder consultation report that reflects a general level of satisfaction with the significant achievements ACARA has delivered across curriculum, assessment and reporting. These achievements are the product of ongoing collaborative work by a great many members of the Australian community, from principals and teachers to senior education officials; from students and parents to members of the business community; and from ACARA Board members past and present to ACARA staff members.

Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz AM, ACARA Board Chair, said today, “I am pleased that the report acknowledges ACARA’s achievements of its first six years. The Australian Curriculum along with our national assessment and reporting programs provide a foundation for improving learning outcomes for all young Australians.

“I would like to emphasise that ACARA could not have accomplished its work without the cooperation of all states and territories as well as professional associations and working groups from across Australia.  

“I will be presenting Education Council with advice about implementing the Review recommendations in December 2015."

The Australian Schools List website updated

15 October 2015

The Australian Schools List website has been updated with 2015 school data. ACARA will continue to refine this website, including the functionality of automatic updates to data in the future.

Visit the Australian Schools List website

Working collaboratively online – assessing skills for 21st century living

13 October 2015

Working collaboratively together in an online environment is an increasingly common part of twenty-first century living and working.

ACARA, along with the NSW Department of Education, is a part of a global project that includes education agencies in Ireland and Sweden. The project is exploring the development of innovative, high-quality online assessment methods and tasks that will give reliable data on students’ collaborative problem-solving skills.

Collaborative problem-solving involves students working together online on complicated tasks, for example, working with another student online to find out why the fish are dying in a creek, or why an electric circuit is not working. The tasks assess knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that will assist students to live and work successfully in the 21st century, and that are included in the Australian Curriculum as general capabilities.

From 19 October, a week-long trial of online tasks will occur in 21 schools across Australia. This follows an initial test run of one online task in a small number of schools in NSW in July.

The results of the trial will help project partners to better understand how to develop valid and reliable online assessments of collaborative problem-solving skills. Teachers may be able to use these assessments in their classrooms.

NAPLAN online will support laptops, computers and tablet devices from 2017

12 October 2015

Students will be able to use a wide range of devices, such as laptops, notebooks, computers and portable tablet devices, on Windows, Mac and Chrome platforms, when NAPLAN goes online from 2017.

Today, ACARA has today released minimum technical specifications for devices to be used for NAPLAN online. For more information, visit the 'Technical requirements' page of the NAP website and see the
NAPLAN online technical requirements supporting document (PDF 98 kb). The specifications also include information on a minimum screen size required, network capability, supported operating systems, minimum disk space, security and external equipment, such as a pair of headphones, keyboard and mouse.

ACARA General Manager, Assessment and Reporting, Dr Stanley Rabinowitz, says there is still more research around devices that is currently underway.

“We have released this information as we know some schools may be planning ahead for NAPLAN online in 2017,” Dr Rabinowitz says. “But there is still more research we have been doing around devices. For example, we continue to investigate the use of on-screen keyboards versus external keyboards for tablet devices. This research may support students who use on-screen keyboards if that is what they prefer”.

While NAPLAN online assumes reliable access to the internet, some provisions will be made, where necessary, for students to complete NAPLAN on computers without internet or adequate connectivity. This includes the use of special server software and portable servers in schools.

“One of the concerns we hear is that a school’s internet connection may not be able to support all students doing NAPLAN at the same time,” Dr Rabinowitz says. “We are not expecting all students to do NAPLAN at the same time, or for schools to have one device for every student. When NAPLAN moves online, we propose to extend the testing window from three days to two weeks so students will not be taking NAPLAN at the same time. The concerns around increased opportunities for cheating are also unfounded, as NAPLAN online will use tailored testing so students are not taking the same test at the same time”.

NAPLAN online will require a locked-down browser or app to prevent students from having unauthorised access to websites, applications and spell-checking features during the tests.

“We understand the issues around security, privacy and, of course, equity; and we continue to address these through research we have been doing on the use of devices in the NAPLAN context,” Dr Rabinowitz says. “We will continue to work with schools, education departments and sector representatives to develop an appropriate policy around the use of personal devices”.

About NAPLAN online

Federal, state and territory education ministers have agreed that NAPLAN will move online from 2017, over a two–three year period.

State/territory education authorities (where they exist in a state and territory) will make decisions about the logistics and timing to move NAPLAN online for their state/territory. These groups will also lead implementation in their state/territory.

Advice on implementation and implementation timelines should be sought via the following channels:

  • independent schools: relevant school authority (where they exist in a state or territory) and/or from ACARA ([email protected])

  • Catholic schools: local Catholic education commission

  • government schools: relevant school authority (where they exist in a state or territory), or department of education in a state or territory.

NAPLAN online will provide better assessment, more precise results and faster turnaround of information. Significant planning, development, research and trialling are going on behind the scenes to make sure we are all ready to move NAPLAN online.

NAP sample - Science Literacy tests begin

12 October 2015

From today, around 14,000 Australian students from Year 6 will be sitting the National Assessment Program – Science Literacy (NAP–SL) tests online. These students have been randomly selected from over 630 government, Catholic and independent schools in metropolitan, rural and remote locations around the country.

Read more in a recent issue of the ACARA Update e-newsletter

See a video about NAP sample assessments

Statement by ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, regarding today's article in The Australian

09 October 2015

In The Australian article today, 'School prayer groups a ‘doorway to extremism’', Cathy Byrne is noted as being a member of an ACARA advisory group on intercultural understanding (which has not met since July 2014). While Dr Byrne is a member of one of our many advisory groups she has no authority to speak on behalf of ACARA and ACARA does not agree with her personal views.

The Australian Curriculum recognises the cultural and religious diversity of students as members of an inclusive and fair Australian society.

Schools have in place a range of policies, resources and programmes aimed at deterring young people from adopting risky and anti-social behaviours. These measures promote the safety, resilience, physical/mental wellbeing, social inclusion and engagement of all students.

The Australian Curriculum includes a number of elements that support students’ acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills for safe and inclusive behaviours (and which deter radicalisation and other at-risk behaviours) such as critical thinking and intercultural understanding general capabilities and civics and citizenship.