Why and How you need to Assess ICT Capability?

Accredited Online Professional Development for Teachers - Assessing Student ICT Capability

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Assessment is closely linked to forward planning and so if you intend to plan for the  learning progression of ICT capability with students, it is vital that you have an appreciation of where the children are, where they ought to be and where they might be heading next.

In order to help your students develop their ICT capability begin by determining their starting point by first embedding formative assessment strategies and then followed this up by providing accurate directions that will enable them to plot a course for success.

The assessment of ICT capability is vital as it will allow you to track progress and to plan appropriately for students to achieve their capabilities. Proper assessment will provide you with real evidence and knowledge of where the students are up to. Without it any planning conducted would be worthless.


The Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities (2017) principles of assessment include the following: 

  • The main purpose assessment is to inform teaching and improve learning;
  • Assessment is underpinned by equity principles. It takes account of the diverse needs of students and contexts of education;
  • Assessment is aligned with curriculum, pedagogy and reporting. Quality assessment has curricular and instructional validity – what is taught informs what is assessed, and what is assessed informs what is reported;
  • Assessment alignment with curriculum, pedagogy and reporting includes assessment of deep knowledge of core concepts within and across the disciplines, problem-solving, collaboration, analysis, synthesis and critical thinking;
  • Assessment involves collecting evidence of expected learning as the basis of judgements about the achieved quality of that learning. Quality is judged with reference to fixed standards and is based on evidence;
  • Assessment evidence may come from a range of assessment activities. The assessment activity is selected because of its relevance to the knowledge, skills and understanding to be assessed, and the purpose of the assessment;
  • Information collected through assessment activities is sufficient and suitable to enable defensible judgements to be made. To show the depth and breadth of the student learning, evidence of the student learning is compiled over time. Standards are reviewed periodically and adjusted according to evidence to facilitate continuous improvement;
  • Approaches to assessment are consistent with and responsive to local and jurisdictional policies, priorities and contexts. It is important that schools have the freedom and support to develop quality assessment practices and programs that suit their particular circumstances and those of the students they are assessing;
  • Assessment practices and reporting are transparent. It is important that there is professional and public confidence in the processes used, the information obtained and decisions made.


Australian Curriculum

Like literacy and numeracy, the 21st century skill ICT capability is embedded throughout all Learning Areas of the Australian Curriculum as a General Capability. Teachers are required to teach and assess General Capabilities to the extent that they are included in the Learning Areas content.

Primary educators have a significant duty to ensure that they comply with the expectations imposed on them by the curriculum as Levels 1 to 4 of the ICT capability Learning Continuum lie within their realm. From Foundation Year to Year 6 student progression in ICT capability must be developed in primary education.


ICT Capability Learning Continuum - Creating with ICT (ACARA)

Creating with ICT


Level 1

By the end of Foundation Year

Level 2

By the end of Year 2

Level 3 

By the end of Year 4

Level 4 

By the end of Year 6

Generate ideas, plans and processes

Use ICT to follow or contribute to a simple plan for a solution.

Use ICT to prepare simple plans to find solutions or answers to questions.

Use ICT to generate ideas and plan solutions.

Use ICT effectively to record ideas, represent thinking and plan solutions.

Generate solutions to challenges and learnings area tasks

Use ICT as a creative tool to generate simple solutions, modifications or data representations for personal or school purposes.

Experiment with ICT as a creative tool to generate simple solutions, modifications or data representations for particular audiences or purposes.

Create and modify simple digital solutions, creative outputs or data representations/

transformation for particular purposes.

Independently or collaboratively create and modify digital solutions, creative outputs particular audiences and purposes.


What am I assessing?

The use of ICT in subjects is often represented by printouts or finished products from students. As a result it creates a common misconception amongst teachers that this indicates the level of ICT capability a student has.

Products created by students is really the final element of a much longer, more complex process. It is the actual process that truly gives you the opportunity to assessment ICT capability.


For example:

“The printout of a document will not show whether the positioning of text has been achieved by the repeated use of the space bar, the use of tab marks, the inclusion of an invisible table or the use of alignment tools (e.g. left, centre or right align). Similarly, unless you know the origins of a piece of Internet-based text, you will be uncertain as to the extent a student has edited the text or how long and how extensively the student searched for and located relevant pieces of information and/or images.”

                                                                                        (Bennett et al., 2007, p58)


A finished product will only provide you with a limited and partial assessment of a student’s ICT capability. It is important to remember then that the key elements of ICT capability are mostly practical.

ICT capability, however, is more than just the use of ICT techniques and skills. It also includes having conceptual understanding and making use of higher order skills.

Having a proper mix of all of the elements (routines, concepts, techniques, processes and higher order skills) in an ICT activity will help you to ascertain the level of ICT capability of an individual student.


While it may be easier to assess the less important aspects of learning such as the way a printout looks because you can actually see it, you must avoid this temptation. More important things will be left out that will accurately measure a student’s capabilities.

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