Australia’s Education Council has reported that ICT literacy for primary and secondary school students has begun to decline. This was revealed in the 2014 National Assessment Program (NAP) ICT literacy report.
The NAP provides data and information used by schools, governments and education authorities to make informed decisions about the education of Australian students. The NAP is working to move to online testing in these upcoming years. This would provide the organisation with quicker results and more opportunities to capitalize on data analytics.
The NAP ICT literacy test narrows down on the primary and secondary students’ ability to use ICT in creative and responsible manners. The test also looks at the ICT skills and knowledge of the individual.
For this report, over 10,500 students from more than 650 schools across Australia were randomly selected and administered the NAP ICT literacy test.
The recent report demonstrated a significant decline in ICT mean performance from 2011, when the test was last administered. This is clear from the mean performance of Year 10 students being much lower than previous years that the NAP-ICT literacy test was administered.
“We cannot expect students to reach the proficiency standard represented by the NAP – ICT literacy assessment on their own, through a personal use of technology. There is a need for explicit attention on the teaching and learning of knowledge, understanding and skills, which were the subject of this test and which are in the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies,” stated Robert Randall, CEO of Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
To understand the proficiency levels of a student, NAP has developed a guide which outlines the ICT abilities throughout each level:
Proficiency level description
Students working at level 6 create information products that show evidence of technical proficiency, and careful planning and review. They use software features to organise information and to synthesise and represent data as integrated complete information products. They design information products consistent with the conventions of specific communication modes and audiences and use available software features to enhance the communicative effect of their work.
Students working at level 5 evaluate the credibility of information from electronic sources and select the most relevant information to use for a specific communicative purpose. They create information products that show evidence of planning and technical competence. They use software features to reshape and present information graphically consistent with presentation conventions. They design information products that combine different elements and accurately represent their source data. They use available software features to enhance the appearance of their information products.
Students working at level 4 generate well targeted searches for electronic information sources and select relevant information from within sources to meet a specific purpose. They create information products with simple linear structures and use software commands to edit and reformat information products in ways that demonstrate some consideration of audience and communicative purpose. They recognise situations in which ICT misuse may occur and explain how specific protocols can prevent this.
Students working at level 3 generate simple general search questions and select the best information source to meet a specific purpose. They retrieve information from given electronic sources to answer specific, concrete questions. They assemble information in a provided simple linear order to create information products. They use conventionally recognised software commands to edit and reformat information products. They recognise common examples in which ICT misuse may occur and suggest ways of avoiding them.
Students working at level 2 locate simple, explicit information from within a given electronic source. They add content to and make simple changes to existing information products when instructed. They edit information products to create products that show limited consistency of design and information management. They recognise and identify basic ICT electronic security and health and safety usage issues and practices.
Students working at level 1 perform basic tasks using computers and software. They implement the most commonly used file management and software commands when instructed. They recognise the most commonly used ICT terminology and functions.
From this report, it has been made clear that primary and secondary schools across Australia will need to further integrate ICT learning into their curriculum. This will help prepare students for the digital world, which will be a large part of their career in the future.