Data standards manual: Student background characteristics

The purpose of the Data standards manual: Student background characteristics – 2022 edition (PDF 301 kb) is to provide guidance to schools, school systems, test administration authorities and any other relevant collection and reporting entities on the collection of student background data using nationally agreed, standard definitions.

The nationally agreed student background characteristics collected are:

  • Gender
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status
  • Parental school education
  • Parental non-school education
  • Parental occupation group
  • Language other than English spoken at home.

Student background characteristics are collected for all students for the purposes of:

  • Reporting student background and school level information on My School
  • Determining Australian Government funding loadings
  • National reporting of the results of the National Assessment Program
  • Reporting student background data in the National Schools Statistics Collection.

The Data Standards Manual was last reviewed in 2021 and 2022 with the Student Background Data Standards Working Group containing representatives from each Education Department, Catholic Sector, Independent Sector, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP).

It is not anticipated that the revised Manual will cause changes to current data collection and reporting practices.

It is the responsibility of schools and school systems to review and adjust their data collection tools and data processing procedures to ensure their collections incorporate the standard definitions, question modules and data coding structure for each of the variables, as per the technical specifications provided in the Data Standards Manual.

What is new?

Data standard for gender

The word "sex” has been replaced with “gender” in the question wording in relation to students. This brings the Data Standards Manual into line with approaches around the country, including the ABS. While the responses to be collected have been broadened, only male and female will be reported.


Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions can be found here