Version 4.0, last updated: May 2017
- email and portal subscriber lists
- membership details of ACARA’s working and reference groups, advisory and expert panels and Board members
- prospective and current employee records, including sensitive information
- records of consultants, contractors and creditors, including finance records.
If you are solely interested in the data we collect as part of our testing programs, we recommend you read the overview (particularly 5.7–5.9) and part C.
“means information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable:
- whether the information or opinion is true or not
- whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not”.
Our approach is consistent with the Office of the Australian Information Commission Australian Privacy Principle Guidelines, at paragraph 1.10:
2. ACARA’s functions and purposes
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) was established under the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority Act 2008 (Cth) (ACARA Act). Our functions and purposes are described in sections 6 and 40 of the ACARA Act respectively. They are to:
- develop and administer a national school curriculum;
- develop and administer national assessments;
- collect, manage and analyse student assessment data and other data relating to schools and comparative school performance;
- facilitate information sharing arrangements between Australian government bodies in relation to the collection, management and analysis of school data;
- publish information relating to school education, including information relating to comparative school performance;
- conduct research relating to the national school curriculum;
- assist federal, state and territory governments to formulate policies in relation to education matters; and
- formulate national reports consisting of aggregated data on school performance.
We publish a number of national reports consisting of aggregated data on school performance including the annual National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) national report, the public reports for the NAP sample assessments, the annual National Report on Schooling in Australia (the annual report on school education in Australia) and aggregated school-level performance and contextualised data on the My School website, updated annually. These reports inform federal, state and territory governments’ policy formulation in relation to, for example:
- identifying better practice at school level (through My School), leading to policy interventions to encourage similar initiatives in other schools;
- identifying improvements in schools that may have been influenced by policy that could be adopted by other school authorities;
- identifying learning areas for improvement and resource allocation (through the NAP sample assessments public reports);
- improving teacher quality;
- mounting policy interventions to improve literacy and numeracy; and
- resourcing schools.
Upon request from federal, state and territory governments, we provide other detailed data, including student and parent/guardian information, which is used to model proposed policy changes and to assist with the formulation of education policies and resourcing. For example, we may provide parent/guardian background information to federal, state and territory departments of education to improve the understanding of trends and patterns of student achievement for groups of students that are of interest for policy purposes.
3. ACARA’s mission
Our mission is to improve the learning of all young Australians, through world-class school curriculum, assessment and reporting.
We collect and hold personal information in relation to the Australian Curriculum (e.g. student work samples), the National Assessment Program (e.g. licences for third party materials in tests), reporting (e.g. data that inform My School reporting) and policy formulation (e.g. parent/guardian personal background information).
Our use and disclosure of personal information assists us to perform our statutory functions and purposes and to fulfil our mission.
- Part A. Online collection of personal information
- Part B. Personal information and Australian Curriculum teaching resources
- Part C. Personal information and the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)
- NAPLAN 2017 privacy otice and Infographic (click on link to access).
5.1 Collection of personal information
Personal information may be collected directly by us, or by people or organisations acting on our behalf (e.g. contracted service providers). It may be collected directly from you, or on your behalf from a representative you have authorised (e.g. employment agency).
Student and parent/guardian data are generally collected from state and territory departments of education or state education authorities responsible for NAPLAN testing (test administration authorities). ACARA also collects data from other education organisations to assist in NAPLAN reporting and in relation to its other national testing programs, including the NAP sample tests. ACARA may collect data from departments of education (regardless of whether or not they are test administration authorities in their jurisdiction), Catholic systems and independent schools or independent school systems.
5.2 Types of personal information collected by us
We collect a range of personal information including:
- email and portal subscriber lists – part A – email and portal subscriber lists (click on the hyperlink for more detail);
- membership details of ACARA’s working and reference groups, advisory and expert panels and Board members;
- prospective and current employee records, including sensitive information;
- records of consultants, contractors and creditors, including finance records;
- student and teacher personal information collected in relation to part B – Australian Curriculum teaching resources (click on the hyperlink for more detail);
- student and parent data, collected in relation to the reporting of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests – part C – NAPLAN;
- student data, collected in relation to the National Assessment Program (NAP) Sample Assessments; and
- student data, collected in relation to ACARA’s other testing programs including, for example, trialling and equating tests, research and development tests and other student testing programs conducted in accordance with directions from the Education Council.
5.3 Collection for authorised purposes
Under section 40 of the ACARA Act, we collect personal information for purposes which are necessary for, and directly related to, any of the following three (3) purposes:
- conducting research relating to the national school curriculum;
- assisting government to formulate policies in relation to education matters; and
- formulating national reports consisting of aggregated data on school performance.
In this policy, we refer to these purposes as ACARA Authorised Purposes.
5.4 Collection of sensitive information
In carrying out our functions under the ACARA Act we collect personal information that is sensitive information. ‘Sensitive information’ means personal information about you that is of a sensitive nature such as:
- information about racial or ethnic origin (collected for the purposes of formulating national school reports and assisting government to formulate education policies – see part C of this policy); and
- information about membership of a professional or trade association and health information (collected by ACARA as part of our employee records).
Special requirements apply to the collection and handling of sensitive information. We will only collect sensitive information from you if:
- you provide your consent; or
- we are required or authorised by or under law (for example, the ACARA Act authorises us to collect ethnic origin or background information from Test Administration Authorities, Departments of Education, Catholic systems and some independent schools for the ACARA Authorised Purposes); or
- it is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the health or safety of any individual.
5.5 Remaining anonymous or using a pseudonym
We understand that anonymity is an important element of privacy and you may wish to remain anonymous, or use a pseudonym, when interacting with us.
In many cases you will be able to advise us that you wish to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym during your contact with us. In circumstances where it is likely that we would need to collect your personal information, such as to resolve a dispute or provide you with a service, we will notify you accordingly at the time of collection.
5.6 Collection of personal information by our contractors
In carrying out our functions under the ACARA Act, we may use contracted service providers (commercial enterprises) to collect personal information on our behalf. We always require our contracted service providers (including sub-contractors) to comply with the same privacy requirements applicable to us, as part of our contract requirements. Many contractors will also be subject to the Privacy Act in their own capacity.
5.7 Personal information collected for testing programs
One of our functions under s.6 of the ACARA Act is to ‘develop and administer national assessments’. Our two (2) main areas of focus are the NAPLAN tests and the NAP sample tests. More information about these tests can be found on the NAP website. Each of these programs are administered in different ways. For example, in relation to NAPLAN, ACARA works closely with each state/territory test administration authority. Each organisation has jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which describes the roles and responsibilities of each organisation in administering these tests. This MOU only covers NAPLAN. It does not cover the NAP sample tests.
In relation to the NAPLAN tests, we also administer some other test activities to ensure that the test questions are suitable (trialling tests) and to be able to report NAPLAN results in different years on the same assessment scale (equating tests).
In relation to the reporting of NAPLAN results, we also have separate administrative arrangements regarding the collection of student parental background data for the index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) calculation. ICSEA enables meaningful comparisons of NAPLAN test achievement by schools across Australia.
We also separately administer other test programs. For example, we have administered research and development tests that informed ACARA’s development of a tailored test design for NAPLAN Online and construction of the NAPLAN 2017 online tests. ACARA anticipates that it will conduct further research tests in 2017, including testing for accessibility requirements.
Under the ACARA Act, we are also required to perform work in accordance with any directions given to us by the Education Council: s.7 of the ACARA Act. The Education Council has agreed for us to undertake exploratory work towards developing higher standards for NAPLAN. This involves ACARA in administering further research tests to inform recommendations regarding the creation of proficiency standards that may be used in the future.
NAPLAN tests – no collection of student or parent/guardian names
ACARA does not collect or hold student and parent/guardian names in relation to the NAPLAN tests (refer to part C). This means student level data are not associated with student names, and ACARA cannot link the data back to individual students. The data in ACARA’s possession are unlikely to be personal information. However, if the data were released into the public, the data would likely be considered personal information given that members of school communities may be able to reconnect student level data to individual students. ACARA, therefore, treats the student level data and small cohort school level data it holds as if it were personal information and manages these data with appropriate care and diligence in accordance with the Privacy Act and the APPs.
ACARA’s other test programs
We treat all student level data that we collect in these test programs as if it were personal information, and manage these data with appropriate care and diligence in accordance with the Privacy Act and the APPs.
While we do not generally collect student names as part of our test activities, we do collect student names in two (2) of our test programs, being:
- The equating tests (paper) in 2017 and 2018; and
- The NAP sample assessments.
The data that we collect as part of these test programs are personal information and we manage these data with appropriate care and diligence in accordance with the Privacy Act and the APPs.
If we collect personal information directly from you, we notify you at, or before, or as soon as practicable after, the time of collection.
We collect personal information from the test administration authorities, school systems or schools about a large number of students from all schools around Australia. Due to the very large number of schools and individuals involved, it is not practicable to notify every individual each time we collect personal information. For further information, refer to part C of this policy.
5.9 What we do with your personal information
How we use your personal information will depend on the purposes for which it was collected. Some of the ways in which we use your personal information are:
- to assist us in operating our business (e.g. paying our accounts);
- to inform interested members of the public about our activities through our subscriber lists; and
- to perform our functions and purposes under the ACARA Act.
We use a customer relationship management system to assist us to track our communications with stakeholders, including tracking letters, emails, phone calls and contact information (for example, job title, organisation, email address and phone number).
We do not give personal information about you or your child to third parties for direct marketing purposes.
ACARA will only disclose student and parent/guardian personal information where consistent with our legal obligations, which includes obligations in any agreement that regulates the ways in which personal information can be used and disclosed by ACARA.
In limited circumstances, we provide detailed data, including student and parent/guardian information, to Australian governments to model proposed policy changes and to assist with the formulation of education policies and resourcing, and to approved researchers. Unless ACARA is required by law to provide information in particular circumstances, we always provide this information under an agreement signed by both parties, which restricts how the data can be used and disclosed. The circumstances in which ACARA discloses this personal information are:
- To federal, state and territory departments of education upon request, where the request is for an Authorised Purpose. Each request is dealt with on a case-by-case basis to ensure it comes within an Authorised Purpose. For example, if the request is for parent/guardian personal information to ‘improve understanding of trends and patterns of student achievement for groups of students that are of interest for policy purposes’, this would fall within the Authorised Purpose of assisting government/s to formulate policies on education matters.
- To approved researchers upon request, if the request is for an Authorised Purpose. Each request is dealt with on a case-by-case basis to ensure it comes within an Authorised Purpose. We manage all data requests through our data access request process, details of which are publicly available on ACARA website.
- To the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), where it issues a Notice of Direction to ACARA under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (Cth).
ACARA discloses personal information to Education Services Australia Limited (ESA). ESA operates the platform that will deliver NAPLAN Online (see part C for more information). This personal information comprises names and work contact information about key school contacts employed at schools. This might be a school principal or an authorised teacher or administrative staff member. ACARA discloses this personal information to ESA so that ESA can administer NAPLAN Online. ACARA discloses this personal information:
- for the primary purpose for which it was collected (formulating national reports consisting of aggregated data on school performance); and
- under an agreement with ESA restricting the ways in which the data can be used and disclosed by ESA.
ACARA may also disclose personal information held by ACARA if required to do so under an Australian law or a court/tribunal order (for example, a court may order us to disclose personal information if it is relevant and necessary for legal proceedings).
5.10 Disclosure of personal information overseas
ACARA will only disclose student and parent/guardian personal information where consistent with our legal obligations, which includes obligations in any agreement we sign that restricts how personal information can be used and disclosed by ACARA.
We may disclose other types of personal information overseas where ACARA:
- publishes on the internet material that may contain personal information, such as our reports and other documents, photographs, video recordings and audio recordings, and posts and comments on our social media platforms;
- provides personal information to recipients using a web-based email account where the email data are stored on an overseas server;
- engages contractors who are located overseas; and
- is permitted under the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).
We will not disclose your personal information to an overseas recipient unless one of the following applies:
- you consent to disclosure after being expressly informed that we will not be taking reasonable steps to ensure that the overseas recipient does not breach the APPs;
- the overseas recipient is required by contract to comply with the APPs (this would apply, for example, to ACARA’s contractors located overseas);
- the recipient is subject to a law or binding scheme substantially similar to the APPs, including mechanisms for enforcement;
- disclosure is required or authorised by an Australian law or a court/tribunal order;
- a permitted general situation exists in relation to the disclosure of the information (such as being necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of any individual, or to public health and safety); or
- disclosure is reasonably necessary for an enforcement related activity conducted by, or on behalf of, an enforcement body and the recipient performs similar functions.
It is not practicable for us to list every country to which we may provide personal information, as this will vary depending on the circumstances. You may contact us to find out: whether we hold your personal information; whether we disclose this personal information overseas; and if so, in which countries your personal information has been provided.
We take reasonable steps to protect the personal information we hold against loss, unauthorised access, use, modification or disclosure, and against other misuse. These steps include password protection for accessing our IT system and securing paper files in locked cabinets. Access to your personal information held by us is restricted to authorised ACARA staff, on a need to know basis.
ACARA’s current records management system, network drives and virtual server environment are hosted by ACARA within Australia.
ACARA requires any contracted service providers engaged by ACARA to collect, process or store personal information to maintain appropriate security practices.
6. Access and correction
You can access the personal information that we hold about you, and you can ask us to correct the personal information we hold about you.
If you request access to the personal information we hold about you, or request that we change your personal information, we will allow access or make the changes unless we consider that there is a sound reason under the Privacy Act, Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) or other relevant law to withhold the information, or not make the changes.
In relation to student and parent/guardian data collected as part of NAPLAN reporting, ACARA is not able to associate individual student names with student level data. While we hold student identifiers as part of the NAPLAN data sets, we are not able to match these identifiers with a particular student (this matching process can only be performed at a state or territory level by the relevant test administration authority, school authority or school). If you wish to access or correct your child’s personal information or NAPLAN data, contact your child’s school in the first instance.
If we do not agree to provide access to your personal information or to amend or annotate the information we hold about you, then you may wish to:
- make a statement about your requested changes and we will attach this to your record; or
- lodge a complaint with us: see section 7: Complaints regarding the handling of your personal information.
7. Complaints regarding the handling of your personal information
If you wish to make a complaint about how ACARA deals with your personal information, you can complain to us or the Privacy Commissioner. The Privacy Commissioner generally prefers that you raise your complaint with us first. Our Privacy Officer will be able to assist you.
If you are dissatisfied with our response, you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner. The Privacy Commissioner has the power to investigate complaints about possible breaches of the Privacy Act. Contact details for the Privacy Commissioner can be found at (www.oaic.gov.au/about-us/contact-us).
8. How to contact us
Note: These calls can be made for a local call cost from fixed residential landlines anywhere in Australia, but calls from mobile and pay phones may incur higher charges. If you are concerned about fees for mobile phone usage, please check with your service provider.
Part A. Online collection of personal information
ACARA’s public websites are hosted by organisations other than ACARA. Our two (2) service providers are:
Both our service providers are contractually required to ensure the privacy of our online users is protected.
When you visit any of our online platforms, our metric tools may collect the following information about your visit for statistical purposes:
- server address;
- top level domain name (for example .com, .gov, .au, .uk, etc.);
- your internet service provider;
- if you are connecting to our site from a state or territory department of education or a state education authority, the relevant state or territory;
- the date and time of your visit to the site;
- the pages you accessed and documents downloaded during your visit;
- the previous site you visited (if you followed a link on that site which directed you to our site);
- in limited circumstances, if you've visited our site before (but only if you do so from the same computer and browser and have not cleared your cookies in-between visits); and
- the type of browser used and operating system you are using.
We record this data to maintain our server and improve our services. We generally do not use this information to personally identify anyone. However, we may need to identify users in the unlikely event of an investigation by a law enforcement agency.
3. Email and portal subscriber lists
We have a number of subscriber lists, including:
- our e-newsletter (ACARA Update) email list, which stores information relating to subscribers who have an interest in our activities to enable the distribution of this e-newsletter; and
- our portal subscriber lists, which store information relating to individual or group subscribers who have an interest in providing feedback on the Australian Curriculum, or school principals (or delegates) that check and provide information relevant to their school for publishing on the My School website.
These records are kept indefinitely or until you choose to unsubscribe. If you are listed on our email (ACARA Update) list, you can opt out at any time. You can unsubscribe by using the ‘unsubscribe’ option noted in our emails. You can obtain access to your personal information stored on this subscriber list by contacting us. Our details can be found by clicking on the following link: Overview (heading 8) – How to contact us.
We do not sell or transfer these lists to third parties for direct marketing or any other purposes.
5. Data quality
We will arrange for the deletion or correction of any personal information that we have collected about you as a result of you visiting our online platforms, on your request.
6. Data security
Part B. Personal information and Australian Curriculum teaching resources
2. Australian Curriculum - Student work samples
Student work samples are published on the Australian Curriculum website as a resource for teachers to support planning and implementation of the Australian Curriculum. The portfolios of student work samples are designed to illustrate different levels of student achievement of the standards.
In relation to some student work samples published on the public Australian Curriculum website, we do publish personal information identifying the student (including, but not limited to, photographs, sound recordings and film). We obtain consent prior to publishing these work samples from:
- a parent or a legal guardian (where the student is less than 18 years of age); or
- the student (where the student is 18 years of age or older).
3. Australian Curriculum – other teaching resources
The Australian Curriculum website includes links to films hosted on external platforms such as You Tube including (without limitation), illustrations of primary curriculum management and student diversity. These films have been created by ACARA or its contractor and are presented as resources for principals, schools and teachers. The films provide advice on relevant matters and illustrate how, for example, the Australian Curriculum enables students with diverse needs to access and participate in learning.
Some of the published films contain personal information. This might include, for example, a film of a group of students interacting with a teacher. Prior to publishing these materials, privacy consent is obtained from the relevant parents/guardians/students.
Part C. Personal information handling practices relating to the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)
A brief overview of the way privacy is managed as part of NAPLAN 2017 is summarised in our NAPLAN 2017 Privacy Notice, which can be found on the NAP website. Note that the 2017 NAPLAN tests are paper-based only.
NAPLAN will soon commence its transition to online testing. The transition is expected to take two (2) years. During the transition period, the NAPLAN tests will be both paper-based and online. More information about the move to NAPLAN Online is available at the NAP website.
Education Services Australia Limited (ESA) will operate the platform that will deliver NAPLAN Online. ESA is a national, not-for-profit company owned by all Australian education ministers. More information about ESA can be found at the ESA website. The records containing personal information are stored on the platform by ESA on behalf of the relevant state/territory test administration authority. Test administration authorities (and the Queensland Department of Education and Training in respect of Queensland government school data) have responsibility for holding these records. Data stored on the platform are separated into tenancies, which allows the relevant state/territory test administration authority to retain ownership and control of the records stored within their respective tenancies in the platform. ACARA does not access these records.
3. Test administration authorities
In addition to ACARA and schools, the key organisations that hold personal information in relation to NAPLAN testing are each state and territory test administration authority. Test administration authorities are responsible for the implementation and administration of the NAPLAN tests in their jurisdiction. Contact details for each state and territory test administration authority are listed on the NAP website.
4. Personal information handling practices
4.1 What we collect
We collect and hold a range of student data as part of the NAPLAN datasets, comprising combinations of the following:
- TAA identification;
- year level (3,5,7 or 9);
- school identifier and school name;
- student identifier (no names);
- school geographical location classification;
- school sector (government, Catholic, Independent, home school);
- date of birth;
- sex (male, female);
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status;
- language background other than English;
- test participation for each domain (reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy); and
- student question responses, including historic and current NAPLAN question responses, and all statistics and data derived from the student question responses.
We also collect and hold parent/guardian background information as part of the NAPLAN question responses dataset, comprising:
- parent/guardian’s school education;
- parent/guardian’s non-school education; and
- parent/guardian’s occupation group.
ACARA does not collect or hold student and parent/guardian names in relation to the finalised NAPLAN tests (see above figure). Student and parent/guardian names are held by school systems and schools. Test Administration Authorities hold student names for their state or territory and, in some instances, may also hold parent/guardian names.
A list of deidentified data fields (data not connected with student names) that ACARA collects in relation to the NAPLAN tests, for the paper-based format, can be found on the ACARA website.
Participating state and territory test administration authorities will upload a more comprehensive set of data, including student names, onto the online platform as part of preparing for online testing. A full list of data fields (including student names) collected on the online platform by ESA on behalf of state and territory education authorities can be found on the National Schools Interoperability Program website.
In respect of NAPLAN 2016 and earlier years, ACARA collected additional student and parent/guardian background personal information in relation to NAPLAN. This information is held in a separate dataset. ACARA is not collecting these additional data for NAPLAN 2017 onwards. The additional student and parent/guardian personal information that ACARA has collected in the past comprises:
- student country of birth;
- student main language other than English spoken at home;
- parent/guardian main language other than English spoken at home;
- Australian citizen indicator;
- permanent resident indicator;
- visa sub-class number;
- date of arrival in Australia; and
- student address details (collection stopped prior to 2016).
4.2 Collection of your personal information by schools
4.3 Collection of your personal information by us
4.4 Use – formulating national reports
Each year, we publish, or assist in the creation of, five (5) reports on NAPLAN results, being:
- NAPLAN summary results, published typically in the third quarter of the year of the test;
- NAPLAN national report, or as searchable results, published in December of the year of the test;
- School and Student Summary Report, available for NAPLAN online schools only, at the end of the second quarter of the year of the test;
- Individual Student Reports, available for distribution by schools in the third quarter of the year of the test; and
- Aggregated school-level NAPLAN performance data, published on the My School website in the first quarter of the year following the tests.
The preparation of all these reports requires close co-operation between the Test Administration Authorities and ACARA. ACARA is responsible for publishing the NAPLAN summary results and NAPLAN national report. ACARA also publishes aggregated school-level performance data on My School.
We use data to calculate summary data for inclusion in these reports and to enable useful comparisons with similar schools on the My School website. For example, we calculate:
- the index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA). ICSEA enables meaningful comparisons of NAPLAN test achievement by schools across Australia. This index enables My School users to gain an understanding of the levels of educational advantage or disadvantage that students bring to their academic studies at individual schools. This dataset contains parental background information in relation to all students enrolled in a school. It does not contain any NAPLAN data. We collect this data from a range of sources including the departments of education, Catholic systems and some independent schools; and
- student gains over time. To calculate this gain, test administration authorities provide ACARA with matched data without names (e.g. student A in year 3 in 2008 and year 5 in 2010). ACARA calculates and reports the gain, aggregated at school level.
The individual student reports are distributed to parents/guardians by schools. We assist the Test Administration Authorities by calculating scaled NAPLAN scores, for inclusion in the individual student reports. We perform this calculation using a range of information (including personal information) collected from the Test Administration Authorities and, in the case of some jurisdictions, the Departments of Education.
We are always very careful in how we use data to report on NAPLAN results. All NAPLAN school performance data is aggregated before it is published in the NAPLAN national reports and on My School.
4.5 Data security