Curriculum activity report - May-June 2017

Introduction

he new-look Australian Curriculum website will be launched next week. We have listened to feedback and hope you will enjoy the enhancements to the site. These improvements include a fresh look and feel, and a new ‘filter’ option on the home page that will make content easier to find. There is no change to the actual curriculum, just how it is presented.   

The website will retain its current address of www.australiancurriculum.edu.au and all links to curriculum and resources will be maintained through automatic redirects.   

Users of the older version (7.5) of the Australian Curriculum will still be able to access this by going to a link on the homepage. Version 7.5 of the Australian Curriculum will only be available until the end of 2017. 

In early June, ACARA’s Curriculum Specialists worked with teachers from across Australia to explore approaches to embedding the General Capabilities when developing tasks to assess learning against the achievement standards. The June workshop focused mainly on Critical and Creative Thinking, with other general capabilities included where relevant. The resources produced as part of this initial workshop will include units of work and samples of students’ work; these will be published on the Australian Curriculum: Resources site later in 2017. Examples of this exploratory work include a focus on STEM in the middle years (Intercultural Understanding / Ethical Understanding), Geography (ICT capability / Ethical Understanding), primary years learning in Health and Physical Education (Personal and Social Capability) and a Year 8 English unit with an emphasis on Shakespeare (Critical and Creative Thinking) and an English unit on journal writing (Personal and Social Capability) which could offer support for students with diverse learning needs.

There is growing interest among tertiary institutions and professional associations across Australia regarding the use of the Australian Curriculum Connection resource in relation to outdoor learning. ACARA is considering the creation of a video presentation that may be of use to these and other organisations in the future.

In partnership with CESA and DECD, ACARA is working with several Catholic and Government schools in South Australia whose staff have volunteered to explore the connections between child protection content, learning areas and general capabilities across the Australian Curriculum. The schools will produce units of work, quality assessment tasks and work samples that will demonstrate aspects of achievement standards in HPE and other learning areas as well as support assessment of student learning in relevant general capabilities.

States, territories and jurisdictions continue to be supported in their implementation of the Australian Curriculum: HASS (Version 8.3) in F-6/7. Annotated work samples that demonstrate aspects of the Achievement Standards in 7-10 Civics and Citizenship have been completed and will be available via the Resources portal on the new-look Australian Curriculum website. Development of work samples in 7-10 Economics and Business and in each of the F-6/7 HASS sub-strands is underway.  

ACARA’s Curriculum Specialist, Languages is collaborating with schools and teachers across the country to collect samples of student work that exemplify the Australian Curriculum’s achievement standards. The aim of this project is to develop high-quality assessment tasks that support students’ learning and illustrate achievement ‘at’ the standards. Over the past few months, rewarding workshops have been held with languages consultants and teachers from Independent, Catholic and government schools in the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. Further workshops are planned for July and August in Tasmania, the ACT, Queensland and South Australia. Samples of work illustrating performance ‘at’ the standard in Chinese, French, Indonesian, Italian and Japanese will be published on the Australian Curriculum website at the end of 2017. The project is then expanding to include Arabic, German, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese. Thank you to all who have participated to date – the feedback has been wonderful.

ACARA has invited stakeholders to provide feedback on their experience of the implementation of the Australian Curriculum to inform the fourth annual monitoring report.  Feedback on all aspects of the Australian Curriculum is welcome. As always, respondents are asked to comment on particular issues to ensure that a wide range of data can be collected. For the 2016-2017 report, respondents have been asked specifically about student diversity and how the Australian Curriculum is used to meet learners’ needs; local variations to the Australian Curriculum content and design; and the extent to which the Cross-Curriculum Priorities are being implemented as well as the use of the material provided in relation to these on the Australian Curriculum website. 

During 2016, version 1 of the progressions was developed, in consultation with literacy and numeracy experts, using available evidence of the learning sequences for literacy and numeracy development. Version 1 was trialled by 602 teachers in 137 Australian schools between March and May 2017, with participants nominated by state and territory school and curriculum authorities. Trial participants provided comprehensive feedback about the usability of the progressions. Version 1.1 of the progressions reflects improvements made on the basis of analysis of findings from the trial and NAPLAN validation work. Consultation is scheduled for July-August, with involvement by state and territory school and curriculum authorities, key national ACARA advisory groups and a selection of numeracy researchers and experts. The findings from consultation and further validation will inform the development of version 2 in September 2017.

The latest edition of Primary Matters was released in May. The newsletter has a contemporary look, with a move away from the traditional PDF format to an interactive email format. This edition includes an article from Sue Toone, a South Australian principal who outlines her school’s approach to the Australian Curriculum’s General Capabilities, as well as an interview with Melinda Ginty, a parent and President of Gifted Families Support Group. Please read more at http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/primary-matters-newsletter/primary-matters-may-2017.

All members of the Curriculum team are now involved in a long term program of national and international research that will inform the next generation of the Australian Curriculum. This research includes the collection of material relating to curriculum design and consideration of curriculum trends and developments around the world. A key element involves comparisons of the Australian Curriculum with the curricula of up to eight systems and countries whose students perform well in international assessment programs. ACARA’s involvement in international curriculum projects is also proving to be very valuable in this aspect of ACARA’s work. As Australia’s lead agency in the OECD’s Education 2030 Project, ACARA provides advice and feedback that can be shared with participating nations and education systems. A fundamental goal of the OECD Project is to produce a Conceptual Learning Framework that incorporates the 21st century skills and dispositions in ways that complement rigorous study of the traditional disciplines. 

State and territory school authorities and other stakeholders continue to be supported in their implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Science. The ACARA Curriculum team is working in close collaboration with ACARA’s Assessment and Reporting team on NAP-Sample Science Literacy assessment frameworks for Year 6 and Year 10. Science and education specialists from each of the jurisdictions have been invited to participate in the review of the assessment frameworks.

Following the meeting on 21 June of ACARA’s Students with Disability Advisory Group, a sub-group has been formed to support ACARA’s long term program of research. The sub-group will provide advice on rigorous, evidence-based research (including field and lived experiences) that can support learning for students with disability. A video is being developed to further support teachers in the use of the Australian Curriculum. Additional Illustrations of Practice are also currently being filmed for publication later in 2017.

Trialling of the Introductory workshop for the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) school education project known as Digital Technologies in focus: Supporting implementation of Digital Technologies has been completed. The introductory workshop was trialled in the following clusters: Hobart, Tasmania; Charleville and Toowoomba, Queensland. The first workshop following the trials was held in Burnie, Tasmania on 6 July. Recruitment of eight Curriculum Officers has been completed. Officers will begin work on the project in late July, based in locations around Australia.

In May, the Curriculum Specialist: Technologies represented ACARA on the Australian Computer Society panel discussion held in Brisbane and presented to the Australian Council for Deans of Engineering at the University of Technology. The Curriculum Specialist has also been working with the Assessment team on the NAP-ICTL module development, assessment framework and scoring guide. This included a visit to the ACER marking centre to observe the field trial marking process on 23 June.