Monday, December 22, 2014

ACARA Update December 2014

Welcome to the December issue of the ACARA Update.

Earlier this month, we published the 2014 NAPLAN National Report, which provides nationally comparable data on the 2014 results for each NAPLAN test domain: numeracy, reading, writing and language conventions (spelling, and grammar and punctuation).

The report showed us that overall student achievement has remained stable for each year level and most domains. You can read more about the key findings here.

This information is important. Those students who completed the inaugural Year 3 tests in 2008 have now completed their last NAPLAN assessments as Year 9 students this year – this means parents of these children have four years’ worth of information about their children’s progress in the fundamental areas of literacy and numeracy.

Following the conduct of NAPLAN in May this year, data on student achievement in the important areas of literacy and numeracy have been the subject of conversations in schools, in homes and in the broader community. Given the importance of literacy and numeracy to young people’s learning and success beyond school, it is good to know that the data are being put to great use – celebrating success or focusing on areas for improvement.

We’ve heard from various schools that NAPLAN data gives teachers a better understanding of the abilities and achievements of classes and cohorts of students. We’ve heard of data being used for forward planning, to corroborate the great work being undertaken by schools, as a year-to-year measurement tool or as a way to determine where resources are most needed.

The 2014 NAPLAN data will next be seen on My School when the website is updated next year. Publishing these data on My School contributes to accountability and discussion about school improvement. Such open and transparent provision of data helps parents to see how the school their child attends, or plans to attend, is performing academically relative to other schools in their local area. It also helps them to compare their school’s performance with others of a similar level of socio-educational advantage, no matter where that school is in the country.

ACARA is also focusing on improving what we do. We know that NAPLAN can be improved and we are working to do that. We have made changes to the NAPLAN writing assessment and, in moving NAPLAN online, we will be able to provide students with a better assessment experience and provide parents and educators with more precise results much more quickly.

As we head toward the end of the year, I hope the data we have collected and distributed to parents, schools and the community this year has been, and continues to be, of great value.