The continued evolution of NAPLAN
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The continued evolution of NAPLAN

David de Carvalho

David de Carvalho, CEO of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, talks about the milestone changes NAPLAN has seen recently.

The last 2 years have been significant for the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA); the why of our work has not changed but the how and the what have undergone significant shifts.

In terms of the important work of assessment, the NAPLAN test event completed in May this year was a milestone that marked the first year all schools took the test online and the last year that the test took place in May.

The test event went exceptionally well, with a record 4.3 million tests successfully submitted by more than 1.2 million students in 9,315 campuses and schools across Australia.

I want to say thank you to the students, teachers and schools who helped make that happen, particularly those who grappled with the unique challenges of staffing and attendance impacted by COVID-19 and, in some cases, floods.

It was an important milestone for the program and for ACARA, and we know NAPLAN online is a better, more precise assessment that is more engaging for students.

Earlier this year, we had more significant changes made to the National Assessment Program.

In July last year, education ministers asked ACARA to investigate the feasibility of moving NAPLAN as early in the year as possible. We worked with our partners in the states and territories and determined that it was possible to hold NAPLAN in Term One, starting from 2023, which the ministers agreed to.

We have also had significant changes to the national curriculum, with the Australian Curriculum Review and the launch of the new Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0 website, which teachers tell us is set to change the way they use the curriculum.

A national curriculum ensures the same high standard of curriculum content and expectation of learning is available to every student, regardless of where they live and the updated Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0 is one that sets high standards.

Our driving focus throughout the review was the direction from the terms of reference, which asked us to refine, realign and declutter the curriculum. This meant substantially reducing the amount of content to make it more teachable.

One of the ways we facilitated streamlining the curriculum was with our new Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0 website. The website is not just the host for the updated curriculum but also one of the few digitalised curriculum websites in the world, with interactivity and features that will make it easier for teachers to plan their work.

A key aim of the review was to give teachers more time to teach for deeper understanding. This website does that. Teachers from across Australia were involved in user experience testing to make sure the new website has specific features to help teachers view, explore and plan. The main feature is the selector tool, which is the gateway to the Australian Curriculum.

Everything the user needs is accessible from the top menu: all the information about the F–10 curriculum as well as advice about planning and implementation. This is also the jump-off point to explore the different dimensions of the curriculum and access various resources. There’s a quick menu to download curriculum materials, help pages to answer questions and a search tool to help explore.

All curriculum materials are also now in Word rather than PDF format, which makes it easier for teachers to edit and work with the content to suit their purposes when lesson planning.

One of the most useful features is the inline glossary, which saves the user from having to toggle back and forth to look for word definitions. Instead of having to look things up in a separate document, teachers can now simply hover over a word to see a pop-up with its definition displayed.

Teachers used to the Version 8.4 curriculum will know well how laborious it was to move between the 3 dimensions of the curriculum. The new website has done the work so the user can clearly see the connections between the 3 dimensions as well as between the learning areas.

We will maintain the existing Australian Curriculum website with the Version 8.4 curriculum and all support resources while Version 9.0 is now available on the new website. Both websites will remain live until all states and territories have transitioned fully to the Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0.

This article was originally published in Education Matters Magazine – to read the issue download it here.

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