Australian Curriculum Review – the process
In preparing for the Review, ACARA:
- considered the latest research and international developments; and
- consulted with practising teachers, curriculum experts, key academics and professional associations.
We formed the Mathematics Curriculum Reference Group and the Teacher Reference Group to provide advice and feedback, with members nominated by state and territory education authorities and non-government sectors.
We also wanted a specific focus on primary schools, so we created the Primary (F–Y6) Curriculum Reference Group and the Teacher Reference Group, which helped give advice and feedback on how we could improve the curriculum for our youngest students.
From this research, teacher feedback and our work with the reference groups, we identified some key areas where the Mathematics curriculum could be improved.
How to have your say
Provide your feedback through our survey, which will ask you to respond to statements about the revised curriculum. You can see a copy of the survey questions before you begin to give your feedback.
For further information on the survey, including how to save and return to it, refer to the survey information sheet.
The proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum in Mathematics remove outdated and non-essential content, add new content important for students to learn now, and better embed mathematical reasoning and problem-solving into essential content. It includes the following key changes:
- Core concepts that strongly underpin the learning area of Mathematics have been used to identify essential content and refine content descriptions and achievement standards.
- Curriculum content is now organised under six interrelated strands – number, algebra, measurement, space, statistics, and probability. This is different from the current structure, where content is organised under three paired content strands and 13 sub-strands, with four separate proficiency strands.
- The former proficiency strands have been embedded in the revised content descriptions and achievement standards to strengthen the development of mathematical proficiency.
- Many of the content descriptions have been revised, refined and realigned to ensure they specify the essential mathematics content that students should learn, and to give greater clarity to teachers about what to teach.
- Mathematical processes such as modelling, problem-solving, statistical investigation, computational thinking and simulation have been embedded in the revised content descriptions.
- The set of content elaborations have been improved and further developed.
Curricula are reviewed and updated periodically. The Mathematics curriculum was first published in 2010 and since then, there have been significant developments and research into the learning area. The Review looked at recent research into mathematics learning and considered international developments in curriculum and assessment, including computational thinking. We have also heard from teachers who shared their experiences of implementing the Mathematics curriculum, and we have identified both strengths and areas for improvement for the benefit of our students. For the curriculum to be responsive to contemporary demands, it needed to be revised to reflect new evidence and research developments in the learning of mathematics and its use in the world.
A key criticism of the current F–10 Mathematics curriculum is that the proficiency strands are separated from the content and are presented with little direction as to what a teacher is expected to do with them. As a result, teachers focus primarily on teaching factual mathematical knowledge and skills, providing limited opportunities for students to develop deep conceptual understanding of mathematics. By explicitly embedding the critical processes of mathematical reasoning and problem-solving from the previous proficiency strands into the essential content, the proposed curriculum supports deeper conceptual understanding to make mathematical learning more meaningful to students and gives teachers greater clarity and guidance about what they are expected to teach.
How has numeracy been addressed in the proposed revisions, and how is this related to the National Numeracy Learning Progression?
The increased emphasis on mathematical approaches and mathematising in the proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics supports students to recognise and understand the role of mathematics in the world and develop and have dispositions and capacities to use mathematical knowledge and skills purposefully.
The research base for the National Numeracy Learning Progression has been used to inform development of the revised Mathematics curriculum.
Many of the content descriptions are more detailed than those in the current Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. There are two main reasons for this: reducing ambiguity and increasing the clarity of the content descriptions required more text and additional text was needed to embed the intentions of the former proficiency strands into the content descriptions. While they are in many instances longer, the new content descriptions are clearer about what teachers do and do not have to teach.
The achievement standards still describe what a student should typically know and be able to do, but the changes make the achievement standards easier for teachers to use. Each achievement standard is presented in three paragraphs in the same order as the six content strands. There is now a more direct alignment between the content descriptions and the achievement standards. The intentions of the former proficiency strands are now also embedded in the achievement standards so that teachers can be clear about expectations for students’ learning.
There are more, better quality elaborations to give further guidance on content descriptions and suggested ways to approach content. They show suggestions for meaningful alignment to general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities as they relate to specific content descriptions and illustrate authentic ways to develop financial literacy.
When and where are the single-digit multiplication facts (times-tables) covered in the proposed F–10 Australian Curriculum: Mathematics?
These are explicitly covered at Year 4 in both the achievement standard and content descriptions for the number strand. Work on developing knowledge of addition and multiplication facts and related subtraction and division facts, and fluency with these, takes place throughout the primary years through explicit reference to using number facts when operating, modelling and solving related problems.
Emphasis has been placed on meaningful and relevant connections between financial literacy contexts, and related mathematical concepts and skills articulated in content descriptions and content elaborations at each year level. The achievement standards also include reference to using relevant financial contexts and applications.
Core concepts have been used to incorporate computational thinking within level statements and achievement standards, and content descriptions and content elaborations across the strands from Year 3.
Why is the increased emphasis on mathematical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving processes such as mathematical modelling, experimentation, statistical investigation, computational thinking and probability simulations in the proposed curriculum?
These processes are central to learning, doing and applying mathematics. The proposed F–10 Australian Curriculum: Mathematics includes more explicit development of mathematical proficiency through embedding opportunity for students to learn these mathematical processes and building an understanding of the core concepts associated with approaching situations and non-routine problems mathematically. This is an area where Australian students underperform comparatively on assessments such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
How are different student pathways to senior secondary Mathematics subjects supported in the proposed revisions to the Mathematics curriculum?
The F–10 Australian Curriculum provides a suitable base for progression into senior secondary studies. For students planning to study mathematical methods or specialist mathematics, preparation for subsequent study can be strengthened by further exploring some aspects of Mathematics content in Year 10, as a basis for building understanding that underpins formal treatment in Mathematical Methods and/or Specialist Mathematics subjects in senior secondary.
Suggestions for this content, along with illustrative examples to replace the previous 10A optional content descriptions, have been developed for consultation and can be found at the end of the F–10 curriculum document.
Including mathematically precise terms helps with consistent and accurate interpretation of the content of the curriculum. This also highlights for teachers when they could consider introducing the terms to their students as they think appropriate. The advice from experts in literacy and language indicates that students benefit from being immersed in the technical language of the learning areas from an early age. The meaning of terms that may be less familiar will be included in the glossary in the final curriculum.