[LINK] ICT proficiency of Australian students

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Feb 21 14:11:20 EST 2008

> ACER eNews  <www.acer.edu.au/enews/0801_ICT.html>

Study reveals ICT proficiency of Australian students

Australia’s educators and policy makers now have a comprehensive picture 
of the level of ICT literacy of Australia’s Year 6 and 10 students 
following a landmark study completed by the Australian Council for 
Educational Research (ACER).

The report of the National Assessment Program – ICT Literacy Years 6 and 
10 was released this week by the Ministerial Council on Education, 
Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). It reports on a study 
conducted in 2005 involving approximately 7400 students from Years 6 and 
10 in around 520 schools across Australia.  

Although ICT has been embraced with enthusiasm by Australian schools and 
students, to date there has been no national assessment program to 
determine how ICT literate Australian students are. 

In what is believed to be the first assessment of its kind, all of the
testing and marking took place in a totally computer-based environment
with no pen and paper components. 

The assessment instrument included simulations of common application 
programs used to assesses student ICT skills, multiple-choice and short 
text responses to assess students’ knowledge and understanding of ICT and 
live software with which students created larger authentic information 
products. The integration of simulated and live software applications in a 
single seamless online testing environment makes the Australian ICT 
literacy test unique. 

ICT education experts from all States and Territories used the contents of 
the assessment to establish challenging but reasonable proficiency
standards for Year 6 and Year 10. 

Overall 49 per cent of year 6 students attained the proficient standard 
and sixty-one per cent of Year 10 students reached or exceeded the 
proficient standard set for their year level. 

However, according to ACER’s deputy chief executive and lead author of the
report, Dr John Ainley, ICT literacy is not developed to a uniformly high
level among Australian school students.

"The assessment shows that students are adept at using the basic elements 
of information technology but may need more knowledge and skill in 
applications that involve creating, analysing or transforming information",
he said.

Differences in ICT literacy achievement were noted across socioeconomic, 
Indigenous and non-Indigenous and school location groups. 

ICT literacy was strongly associated with socioeconomic background.

Approximately two-thirds (68 per cent) of Year 6 students and three 
quarters (75 per cent) of Year 10 students whose parents were ‘senior 
managers and professionals’ attained the proficient standard compared to 
around one third (32 per cent) of Year 6 students and almost half (49 per 
cent) of Year 10 students whose parents held ‘unskilled manual, office and 
sales’ occupations. 

ICT proficiency was also lower for students from remote locations compared 
to their peers from metropolitan locations and lower for Indigenous 
students than non-Indigenous students.  

No significant difference in proficiency was found between boys and girls
and students of English and non-English speaking background at either year

"Consideration should be given about how best to reduce the achievement 
divide associated with these student background factors," Dr Ainley said.

"Improving access to computers for students in non-metropolitan areas and 
from the least affluent socioeconomic backgrounds would be an important 
starting point."

ICT literacy is defined by MCEETYA as the ability of individuals to use 
ICT appropriately to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information, 
develop new understandings, and communicate with others in order to 
participate effectively in society. 

The ICT Literacy Report is the third published as part of the National 
Assessment Program, and follows the 2003 national Year 6 Science Report 
and the Civics and Citizenship Years 6 and 10 Report 2004. The next 
national ICT assessment is due in 2008.

The National Assessment Program – ICT Literacy, Years 6 & 10 report, 
published by MCEETYA is available online from <www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/>
Copyright © Australian Council for Educational Research 2008

Cheers, people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria, Australia

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