National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions

‘A learning progression can be described as a common pathway of conceptual development or a sequence for learning or acquiring a new skill.’ 

Although a little overwhelming to begin with, we celebrated when a national Australian Curriculum was introduced. At last students in all states of Australia would be taught the same fundamental skills across all learning areas. No more children moving states and feeling lost because they’ve missed out on work taught in different years!

Then, lo and behold, it wasn’t very long before different states decided to create their own versions of the Australian Curriculum!

Admittedly, the national curriculum was very general and did not limit teachers from taking their own view of what they thought each content descripton meant. Many teachers, I’m sure, would have preferred a curriculum that ‘spelled things’ out more clearly.

Now, we have the National Literacy and Numeracy Progressions which were published at the beginning of this year. Where do they fit in? The ‘elements’, ‘sub-elements’ and ‘indicators’ differ somewhat from strands, sub-strands, content descriptons and elaborations in the Australian Curriculum, adding some confusion.

The elements and sub-elements for both numeracy and literacy are shown in the images below.

Image source: australiancurriculum.edu.au

It’s interesting that the literacy headings and sub-headings are very similar to outdated curricula and curriculum frameworks. Perhaps if the ‘headings’ correlated with the current Australian Curriculum headings, teachers might find it easier to use the progressions.

ACARA states that the content of the Australian Curriculum—knowledge, understanding and skills; and achievement standards—are still mandatory. The literacy and numeracy progressions are meant to ‘provide a sequence of development of literacy and numeracy skills, (and) amplify the literacy and numeracy in the Australian Curriculum. They do not replace the curriculum’. [Source: australiancurriculum.edu.au] They are not meant to give content or tell teachers what to teach.

Within the Australian Curriculum, teachers should be able to use the literacy and numeracy progressions to better cater for students’ individual needs. Whole-school implementation is encouraged so students within a school continue to move along their learning journey.

However, it is very difficult to see how the literacy progression amplifies and supports the Australian Curriculum when it’s hard to correlate the two. There are no links to content descriptons or year levels (not even ‘typical’ ones) and the wording is completely different. So where do you look if you need to know where your students are on the progressions and what they should have been taught and what to teach them next to help them progress?

If you have any ideas, please make a comment, as I’m sure others would like to know how to use the literacy and numeracy progressions effectively too!!

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