ACARA news, January 2018

NAPLAN Online: automated essay scoring

25 January 2018

The Education Council has determined that automated essay scoring will not be used for the marking of NAPLAN writing scripts. This decision was taken in December 2017 with a statement released today.

While research by ACARA shows that automated essay scoring has the potential to be a viable option for marking writing scripts, concerns still exist for some stakeholders.

To allay those concerns and facilitate a smooth transition to NAPLAN online, Education Council determined that automated essay scoring will not be used. Any change to this position in the future will be informed by further research and be made as a decision of the Education Council.

As with the current paper NAPLAN, all other domains will still be computer marked.

See the media statement from Education Council

See more about automated essay scoring, including the latest research, on the NAP website.

New literacy and numeracy initiative to support teachers

18 January 2018

Today, ACARA has released the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions – an important new tool to assist teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum: English and the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics.

ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, said the learning progressions would support teachers in locating where individual students are in terms of their literacy and numeracy development, and would help them understand the typical sequence of learning for literacy and numeracy.

“Students acquire literacy and numeracy skills at different rates,” Mr Randall said. “For example, a student may enter their Foundation year knowing how to write his or her own name, while another student may be making pencil marks on a page.

“Perhaps there is another student in that same class already creating short pieces of writing. It is up to these students’ school and teachers to teach the Australian Curriculum: English and Mathematics to each of them, including the range of students in between.”

The progressions will also help teachers to see the next stage of literacy development for each student, no matter what stage of development they are at.

“The learning progressions are not tied to year levels, as they recognise that students typically follow the same sequence or path of learning, albeit at different rates,” Mr Randall said. 

“The progressions will also allow teachers to identify students who have not yet reached the age-equivalent curriculum expectations of the Australian Curriculum: English and Mathematics, as well as students who have exceeded them, so they can adjust their teaching to ensure all students make progress.”

One of the benefits of the learning progressions is that they allow teachers to identify growth in student literacy and numeracy.

“The student making pencil marks and the student writing his or her own name at the beginning of the year may both be able to produce short pieces of writing by the middle of the year,” Mr Randall explained. “The teacher can see that both these students have shown growth, but at different rates, along the same path of learning.”  

ACARA and the NSW Department of Education developed the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions for use by teachers in the classroom as part of the National STEM School Education Strategy. The progressions were created in consultation with literacy and numeracy experts, using evidence-based research into literacy and numeracy development.

From March to May 2017, a group of volunteer teachers from schools across the country trialled the learning progressions on a test website. Eighty schools trialled the literacy progressions, while a further 80 schools trialled the numeracy progressions, totalling around 600 teachers from each state and territory and all school sectors. Based on trial feedback, the learning progressions were modified and released for consultation in July and August, and a final version was presented to the Education Council for endorsement in December 2017.

The National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions are available in the Resources section of the Australian Curriculum website.