Student performance nationally in information and communication technology literacy (ICT literacy) has remained stable compared to previous sample assessments in 2014, according to a report released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
The National Assessment Program (NAP) sample assessment in ICT literacy tests students’ general ICT skills and knowledge in a sample of schools across the country. The sample tests are held every three years.
“Compared to the 2014 ICT sample assessments, national results have remained stable for Years 6 and 10,” said ACARA CEO Robert Randall.
Other results from the report revealed that female students nationally, in both Years 6 and 10, performed significantly better than male students.
Indigenous students had a statistically significant lower mean achievement than non-Indigenous students, revealing a significant gap.
The report also revealed that Year 6 students who speak a language other than English at home outperformed students who speak English at home, though the difference was not found to be significant for Year 10 students.
Though there was no significant difference found between Year 6 students born in Australia and those born overseas. For Year 10 students there was a significant difference, with those born in Australia outperforming those born overseas by 21 score points.
School geographic location was classified as metropolitan, regional and remote. For both Year 6 and Year 10, students from metropolitan schools had the highest scale scores, and those from remote schools had the lowest scale scores. The differences were significant.
Key findings from the Year 6 and Year 10 student surveys show that:
• Higher levels of digital device experience were associated with higher levels of ICT literacy, particularly in Year 10.
• Students’ ratings of the importance of using digital devices were higher in Year 10 than in Year 6, and higher for males than for females.
• Outside of school, male students were significantly more likely to report using entertainment applications (such as watching videos, playing games and streaming music) than female students. The difference was more marked at Year 10 but was still observable among Year 6 students.
• For both Year 6 and Year 10, students with lower ICT literacy achievement were more likely to report frequent use of entertainment applications when at school. This was particularly true for students in Year 6 and for male students in both year levels.
• Lower achieving Year 6 students reported slightly more frequent use of communication applications when at school than higher achieving students did. This was true for both female and male Year 6 students.
• Of the ICT-related tools for school-related purposes, students at both year levels were most likely to use word-processing software, presentation software and computer-based information resources. These types of software were more frequently used by Year 10 students than Year 6 students.
“The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and the ICT capability in the Australian Curriculum provide opportunities for teachers to engage students in the skills, knowledge and understanding that underpin ICT literacy,” said Mr Randall.
“The ICT capability in the Australian Curriculum supports students to learn how to use ICT effectively to communicate information and ideas. The Digital Technologies curriculum teaches students how to use digital technologies to create, for example, digital solutions with computer code such as developing an automated watering system for a school garden, analyse data and understand different forms of a network and security issues involved (for example, Bluetooth and wireless).
The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies has been available for use since October 2015 and has been implemented progressively across the country. “As implementation continues, we should start to see an impact by the next assessment in 2020,” Mr Randall said.
Though he added, “As only a small amount of time is allocated to Digital Technologies, it continues to be important for teachers to value ICT capability in all learning areas if we would like to see a significant improvement.”
ACARA has been funded to support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged schools, as part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. Mr Randall revealed that there are currently 160 schools with a low index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) rating participating Digital Technologies in focus (DTiF) project.