Latest data reveals drop in digital literacy among Year 10 students - Education Matters Magazine
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Latest data reveals drop in digital literacy among Year 10 students

Year 10 student’s digital literacy standards have dropped to the lowest level since testing began, according to the latest data.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) have this week released the first national NAP Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Literacy results since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The test, part of the National Assessment Program (NAP) sample assessments, was undertaken in 2022 and tests students’ general ICT skills and knowledge in a sample of schools across the country.

The sample tests are held every three years but were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

The 2022 report shows at the national level:

  • 55 per cent of Year 6 students attained the proficient standard compared to 53 per cent in 2017. This result is not significantly different from previous NAP–ICT Literacy cycles, except for 2011, at 62 per cent.
  • The average scale score of students in Year 6 (414) was significantly lower than in 2011 (435), but not significantly different from the average in any other cycle including 2017 (410).
  • 46 per cent of Year 10 students attained the proficient standard compared to 54 per cent in 2017. This is significantly lower than the percentage achieved in all previous cycles of NAP–ICT Literacy.
  • The average scale score of students in Year 10 (503) was significantly lower than in 2017 (523), 2011 (559), 2008 (560) and 2005 (551) but not significantly different from the average reported in 2014 (520).

“Digital and ICT literacy skills are key in today’s ever-changing world and so it is pleasing to see from our NAP sample assessment that the proficiency in this area among students is broadly stable,” ACARA CEO David de Carvalho said.

“It is however concerning to see a drop in ICT literacy amongst Year 10 students, which was more pronounced in certain states. This report therefore provides helpful information for schools to focus on this issue.”

Other achievement results from the report show:

  • Female students had higher levels of ICT literacy in comparison to male students in both Year 6 and Year 10. This is consistent with previous testing cycles.
  • The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students attaining the proficient standard remained large in 2022 with a difference of around 30 percentage points.
  • Year 6 students who speak a language other than English at home outperformed students who speak English at home. The difference was not significant for Year 10 students.
  • Students from a metropolitan location tended to have higher levels of ICT literacy than students from a regional location for both years 6 and 10.
  • ICT literacy achievement gradually increased with increasing levels of parental occupation and parental education resulting in large, significant differences between the highest and the lowest occupational and educational groups.

Key findings from the Year 6 and Year 10 student surveys show that:

  • The assessment includes a student survey to gather information about how ICT is used. The survey did not include any questions about the use of generative artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT, which was released in November, well after the assessments were undertaken.
  • Most students indicated they used an ICT device for remote or home learning between the years of 2020 and 2022 (91 per cent for Year 6 students and 95 per cent for Year 10 students).
  • The majority of students were familiar with ICT devices and experienced in their use, particularly in Year 10.
  • Students’ confidence in using ICT devices to complete tasks was significantly higher in Year 10 than in Year 6, and significantly higher for male students than female students.
  • The most frequently reported study activity was searching the internet for information for study or schoolwork. This was true for both Year 6 and Year 10 students, both at school and outside of school.
  • Year 6 students with lower ICT achievement reported more frequent use of entertainment applications at school than students with higher ICT achievement.
  • At school, two-thirds of Year 10 students reported using email frequently, with 40 per cent frequently using chat or messaging apps.
  • Achievement in NAP–ICT Literacy was positively associated with the frequency of use of productivity applications (such as word processing and spreadsheet applications) for school-related purposes. The more frequent use of specialist applications (such as concept mapping or simulations and modelling applications) was negatively associated with achievement.
  • More than 80 per cent of students at both year levels had learnt at school how to identify cyber bullying and where they could seek reliable information and assistance to deal with it and suspicious online contact.

In 2022, the NAP–ICTL assessment was delivered online to students in Year 6 and Year 10 in Term 4 (October to November) 2022. Data were provided by 5,412 Year 6 students in 325 schools and 4,569 Year 10 students in 311 schools. Students were selected by drawing a random sample of schools in each state and territory across Australia and then a sample of students within each of these schools tested.

The 2022 report presents the findings of the sixth NAP–ICTL assessment, the previous ICTL assessment being undertaken in 2017. There is a five-year gap due to the cancellation of NAP Sample in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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