Home' Teacher : December 2010 Contents 36 TEACHER DECEMBER 2010
well as those from lower socioeconomic
backgrounds and rural areas. These find-
ings were perhaps not surprising as they
reflect those of a range of studies on educa-
tional achievement over many years.
The largest influence on student achieve-
ment was socioeconomic background. In
Year 6, 41 per cent of students whose par-
ents worked in jobs described as 'unskilled
manual, office and sales' attained the pro-
ficient standard compared to 72 per cent of
students whose parents are 'senior manag-
ers and professionals.' In Year 10, the cor-
responding figures are 52 per cent and 78
per cent. These differences are similar to
those reported in 2005.
There is a substantial gap between the ICT
literacy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous
students. In Year 6, 24 per cent of Indige-
nous students attained the proficient standard
compared to 59 per cent of non-Indigenous
students. In other words, non-Indigenous stu-
dents were more than twice as likely as Indig-
enous students to reach or exceed the profi-
cient standard. At Year 10, the corresponding
percentages were 32 per cent and 68 per cent.
The gap in ICT literacy achievement between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous students was
greater in 2008 than it was in 2005.
Location also had an effect on perform-
ance. Students' ability seemed to decline
with distance from a metropolitan area.
Students in metropolitan areas outper-
formed those in regional areas who in turn
outperformed students from rural and
remote locations. Access to computers and
related services such as reliable internet con-
nections may offer some explanation for the
weaker performance of non-metropolitan
students, but this is uncertain. The differ-
ences between results attained for each geo-
graphic location are very similar to those
reported from the 2005 survey.
Females recorded higher levels of ICT
literacy than males. There were no differ-
ences at all between students for whom a
language other than English was mainly
spoken at home and other students.
ICT is part of life in modern society and
students who do not develop proficiency in
ICT are likely to be limited in their par-
ticipation in later economic and social life.
In general the results from the 2008 assess-
ment of ICT literacy indicate that Australian
students are well prepared to participate in
contemporary life. The study does, however,
highlight the fact that some students are at
risk of being left behind in this vital area of
their education. The percentage of students
achieving in the lowest two levels of profi-
ciency remained relatively unchanged from
2005, indicating a lack of progress where
improvement is most needed. This also sug-
gests there are some students struggling to
master ICT skills. Some inter vention may
be required to help these students reach the
desired proficiency standards.
Consideration should be given to how we
can best reduce the achievement divide asso-
ciated with these student background factors.
Improving access to computers for students
in non-metropolitan areas and from the least
affluent socioeconomic backgrounds would
seem to be an important starting point.
While the report indicates Australian stu-
dents' high level of achievement, it also
emphasises that schools must continue to pro-
vide systematic and explicit teaching of ICT.
Whether progress has been made or if
the same groups of students continue to
struggle will be show n in the results of the
third National Assessment Program -- ICT
Literacy to be conducted in 2011.
Dr John Ainley is a Principal Research
Fellow in ACER's Educational Monitoring
and Research division, and co- author of
the report of the National Assessment
Program -- ICT Literacy Years 6 and 10.
Further findings and details about the
assessme nt methods u sed are available in
the full report of the Nation al Assessme nt
Program -- ICT Literacy Years 6 and 10.
For the full report, visit www.mceecdya .
The test results show
that many Year 6 and
10 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
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