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Sydney supports extension of educational equity program in schools

5 April 2023
Helping to level the playing field of education
The University of Sydney is supporting edtech provider Janison to deliver 5000 free student benchmarking tests to regional, remote and Indigenous schools over the next two years.

As part of its commitment to educational equity, the University of Sydney is supporting Janison to extend a program designed to find and unlock untapped potential in students in under-represented communities.

The Data-led Equity Education Program (DEEP), is founded on the use of student data derived from digital assessments, in combination with the support of education industry leaders, to drive rapid improvements in student learning outcomes. It centres on the smart use of data as a powerful equaliser among schools, and extends the use of industry-leading student assessment tools to participating schools, free of charge.

The University’s support will enable Janison to provide 5000 student benchmarking tests to schools in low SES, regional, remote and indigenous communities within NSW, as well as a number of ICAS (International Competitions and Assessments for Schools) tests, over the next two years. The program aims to improve educational outcomes through informing best teaching practices in view of confronting findings by the Productivity Commission that students outside major cities are on average 1.75 years behind in literacy and two years behind in numeracy compared with their urban peers.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott AO, said support for student benchmarking tools in target schools was part of the University’s commitment to level the playing field of education.

“We’re delighted to support Janison’s work in low SES, rural and regional communities to unlock the immense potential of talented students from different backgrounds.

“Extending access to evidence-based data tools and testing in these communities is an important way to support the invaluable efforts of teachers in understanding students’ individual needs and tailoring their learning programs, to help achieve equitable educational outcomes,” said Professor Scott.

We’re delighted to support Janison’s work in low SES, rural and regional communities to unlock the immense potential of talented students from different backgrounds.
Professor Mark Scott AO, Vice-Chancellor and President

Intelligent, data-informed teaching practices

Within the boundaries of the program, Janison will provide fully funded access to Reach student benchmarking tests. Progression testing of students allows teachers to assess full cohorts and instantly pinpoint where each student sits against learning objectives, quickly remedying gaps with evidence-based teaching practices.

Discovering gaps has long been a slow, challenging, and imprecise process historically, placing a significant time and effort burden on teachers. This initiative is expected to alleviate that burden, accelerate the performance of schools and increase the likelihood of students reaching their full potential.

“To showcase the benefits of DEEP for students, teachers and schools, we’re encouraging schools from low socio-economic, outer regional, remote, very remote and Indigenous communities to apply to test full cohorts of students across multiple year levels and subjects in order to take full advantage of the program,” said Amy Barouch, Group Executive, Janison Assessments, Janison.

“We’re thrilled to have the University of Sydney’s support, which will enable us to offer more schools the opportunity to access data for teaching-related decision-making, that will drive student and teacher growth and increased interest and investment in their school.” 

Janison will initially take DEEP to schools in target communities in NSW to test the market and learn from their experiences, before later discussing a broadening of the scope. Meanwhile Janison's full suite of student assessments are available to schools across the country.

Schools that are successful in applying for the initiative have the opportunity to select a number of students to participate in ICAS. The globally-renowned ICAS school competition, operating for more than 40 years, assesses top-performing students’ proficiency in their selected subjects – including STEM and English – ranking their performance against their peers from all participating schools across the region. ICAS provides an excellent means to identify, through complex problem solving, students’ true potential in ways not revealed by testing knowledge alone and support them in education paths that maximise future career opportunities. 

Notably, ICAS was the means to discover the abilities of Australian student Adam Ritchie, who played a key role in the University of Oxford’s development and manufacturing of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Donna Wright, Principal in Regional Victoria, who was awarded Australian Principal of the Year in 2020 said: “I am supportive of tools like ICAS in my school which allows for students to benchmark their performance against all other Australian students, as well as participate in a global competition. 

“We are able to recognise high achievers in academics just like we do in other disciplines like sports. It is important that we actively seek to engage with and inspire students, families and educators in regional areas, to think big, extend student personal belief, and, to ensure families know that their children have access to quality educational pathways post compulsory schooling.”

Education for everyone

The University of Sydney and Janison recognise the importance of providing schools with equitable access to data analytics, to help close the education gap between remote and rural and metro schools.

Amy Barouch, Group Executive, Janison Assessments, Janison said: “Deep, multi-faceted data insights derived from the DEEP program can change the learning landscape. Providing schools in target communities with tools and data insights to inform effective teaching strategies in a program that carries no financial risk and has the potential to elevate learning, drive more engaged students and create more enjoyable teaching environments.

"In addition, putting data in young teachers' hands to guide their teaching practices will allow schools to nurture and support their career development, improving their chances of retaining good teaching talent.”

Eligible Australian schools can apply for the Janison DEEP program for Years 5 to 10 students via the ICAS Assessments website.

Killara Ulm

Media & Public Relations Adviser (Central)

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