World-first resource for complex needs students wins Premier's Award

A world-first innovation to improve literacy and numeracy skills in students with complex needs has won a Premier’s Award. Jim Griffiths reports.

People smiling around a woman holding a trophy. People smiling around a woman holding a trophy.
Image: The Assessment for Complex Learners project team celebrate their Premier's Award win.

A new teaching resource to better tailor literacy and numeracy lessons for students with disability and complex needs has won a Premier’s Award.

The Assessment for Complex Learners (AfCL) project is a world-first set of integrated, online assessment tools that help teachers understand the skills of students with complex learning needs.

Students with complex learning needs require additional supports or adjustments to successfully engage in learning activities.

Improving foundational skills in literacy and numeracy is the key aim of the new tools and allows teachers to understand the full spectrum of a student’s learning.

NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar said, importantly, the innovative new resources enable teachers to plan an effective and targeted learning program for a student, while also measuring progress and providing parents and therapists with a clear picture of how the student is developing.

“For the first time, anywhere in the world, teachers can fully understand and track the learning of students with complex needs,” he said.

“Thanks to the Assessment for Complex Learners team, teachers will be able to understand not only what those students can do now, but how to help them progress in their learning.

“These tools make students and what they can do visible.

“I congratulate the team for solving that problem, which will make a tangible difference to students’ lives.”

The project was co-designed and trialled by 387 public schools across NSW and involved 2900 students, with a focus on two assessment tools:

  • The Passport for Learning to provide holistic assessment for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability.

  • The Literacy and Numeracy Precursors to describe the skills students may need to establish strong literacy and numeracy.

Teachers, school leaders and school support officers have praised the AfCL tool as genuinely useful and relevant for students with complex learning needs and disabilities, particularly in areas such as planning and reporting.

They said the assessments supported better understanding of a students’ abilities across a school and between schools.

The Assessment for Complex Learners tools will be available to all NSW public schools in 2024.

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