Engaging with the AEDC data for leaders

School leaders engaging with Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) 2021 school report.

This session focuses on the value of AEDC data set in supporting planning and practice in schools. The course explains how to interpret and engage with the AEDC early school preliminary snapshot and AEDC school profile from the 2021 AEDC data collection. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on questions that can guide their engagement with their school snapshot report and profile.

Target audience

School leaders and teachers

Mode of delivery

 Video of school leaders engaging with Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) 2021 school report (34:12)

AEDC school report 2021 – school leaders engagement video (34:12)

School leaders engaging with AEDC 2021 school report

Mary Taiwo

Hi everyone, thank you for taking on and taking some time to join this course. Today, I'll be talking to you about school leaders engaging with the Australian Early Development Census, AEDC 2021 school report. But before I comment, I'll start by introducing myself.

My name is Mary Taiwo and I'm AEDC New South Wales State Coordinator. The AEDC project is an Australian government initiative and the Australian government funds the AEDC implementation in each state and territory. In New South Wales, the New South Wales Department of Education is responsible for the implementation of the AEDC project.

Each state and territory has a state coordinator whose responsibility is to ensure the effective implementation of the AEDC. This includes the data collection and also supporting different stakeholders who engage with the AEDC data. Before we progress into the content of this course, I'm going to present to you the Acknowledgement of Country by students enrolled at one of the New South Wales Department of Education preschools.

Preschool students

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. Together we touch the ground of the Gadigal land. We reach for the sky that covers Gadigal land. We touch our hearts for the care of the Gadigal land.

Mary Taiwo

That was quite delightful to watch.

Acknowledgment of contribution.

So, as I've mentioned earlier, the AEDC project is an Australian government initiative. Here in New South Wales, the Department of Education is responsible for its implementation. However, Telethon Kids Institute is responsible for providing strategic support to the AEDC National Team with the Department of Education Skills and Employment, and also to all the state and territory coordinators. So, at this point, I'd like to acknowledge the contribution of Telethon Kids Institute towards the content presented in this particular professional learning.

Professional Standards and Learning Outcomes.

The content in this course is directed towards meeting the Australian Professional Standard for principals. There are three focus areas where this, the content of this course targets towards. We have professional practises lens, leadership requirement lens, and the leadership emphases lens.

A lot of this has to do with equipping the school leaders or the principal with the appropriate knowledge and also the experience with which they can engage effectively with the community and also to engage effectively with teachers in the school. So this involves being able to engage and work with a community. Developing themselves and others. Both of these fall under the professional practises lens. Then within the leadership requirement lens, we have the knowledge, being able to develop your knowledge and understanding. And also developing personal qualities, social and interpersonal skills. With the leadership emphases lens, it is also being able to develop those relational skills or knowledge that will enhance your ability to have better relational interaction with key stakeholders.

At the end of the session, school leaders will learn how to use the AEDC preliminary early school snapshot and the full school report to inform school planning and improvement. Secondly, school leaders will learn how to engage with their AEDC 2021 early school preliminary snapshot and full school report. So it's not just about learning how to use the AEDC data, but also understanding how best to engage with the data.

Value of the AEDC data.

The Australian Early Development Census, AEDC, is a national measure of children's development by the time they start school. The collection occurs once in three years and is intended to provide a snapshot of a population measure. Each school receives a report that is specific to students enrolled within the school. However, there are different levels of reporting, which is at a community level, the state and the national level. Both for every school that complete the collection, they receive a report that reports on the outcomes for their students. Most schools have found this to be very useful in helping them to contextualise the actions that they take and also in helping them to understand the needs of their students.

So, the AEDC measures five developmental domains. One, it measures physical health and wellbeing of children, social competence, communication skills and general knowledge, language and cognitive skills mainly school school-based skills, and emotional maturity. There are lots of resources that explain a lot more on the domains and how you can understand what the issues might be or how to better support students. Domain guides are available on AEDC New South Wales webpage.

The AEDC data.

The AEDC data can tell us how children have developed in the years prior to school. So the AEDC data collection is completed in Kindergarten in New South Wales which is a first year of full-time schooling. So, it gives an idea of what has happened to the child from birth up until the age at which they commence school. Also, the AEDC data enables school leaders to gain a better understanding of the developmental needs and strengths of children in their community. The data for the school can also be compared with the community level data to provide insights.

AEDC data also helps to examine the impact of programs and policies across population groups. If for instance, a local council has implemented an initiative such as play groups, or a school has implemented an initiative alongside an early childhood service or within a preschool, if the school has a preschool attached to it, then the AEDC data is an easy way to assess what the outcome has been.

The need for an early school preliminary snapshot.

Timelines: AEDC data collection and reports.

Usually during a collection year, the AEDC data collection is completed in Term 2, which is between May to July of any given collection year. However, the school profile is provided to schools in November of the collection year. So for example, 2021 is a data collection year and the data collection was completed between May and July, 2021. Schools get an opportunity to receive their full school profile by November 2021. This has been the practise since AEDC commenced in 2009. However, the difficulty with that, as we received feedback from schools over the years is that they are unable to make an immediate decision using the AEDC data because of the gap between when the data collection is completed to when the data is actually available to schools.

The national state and community level outcomes are published in March of the year after your collection year. So usually, for instance, with 2021 being a data collection year, the outcomes of the 2021 AEDC data collection will be available by March 2022. It is at that point that schools also get an opportunity to receive their full profile addendums giving them additional information. So there is a gap between June, when the data collection is completed, to November when schools receive their full reports, their full school profile. It is within this context that the AEDC decided to pilot early school preliminary snapshot in 2021. This meant that each school received an instant report as soon as they completed the data collection.

AEDC 2021 early school preliminary snapshot.

As mentioned earlier, the early school preliminary snapshot was provided to schools in 2021. The preliminary snapshot is a two-page report that provides a snapshot of raw data at the school level. This is an example of one of the graphs from the early school preliminary report. In this instance, you can see that the graph presents a trend from 2009 to 2012, 2015, 2018, and 2021. In this trend, you can see that between 2018 and 2021, you can see the difference in terms of where the students in that particular school were at and where they're at now currently. This is just an example with one of the graphs focusing on physical health and wellbeing over time for the particular school where this extract was taken from.

So we have three main lines here. First is the green line. And with the green line, this shows the percentage of children who are developmentally on track. In looking at that, you can see that there has been a slight decline in the number of percentage of students who are on track between 2018 and 2021. It's also important to note that with the preliminary report exact numbers in terms of the exact percentage is not provided, only because a certain level of data cleaning needs to happen before those numbers are provided. So schools will have an opportunity to view those numbers when they receive the full school profile. So with the yellow or amber line, it's also the same trend from 2009, up until 2021. In this instance, this line highlights the percentage of children who are developmentally at risk. So basically the students are not quite on track, but they are not yet vulnerable.

However, their level of development is at risk and if they do not receive the efficient support that is required, then they are at risk of becoming vulnerable. The red line shows the percentage of students who are developmentally vulnerable in this particular domain. So in this instance, you can see that there has been a slight increase between 2018 to 2021, in the percentage of children who are at risk. This graph gives an indication and helps the school to decide if the kind of support they are going to provide will be targeted at a smaller group of students or would rather benefit the whole class as a cohort. Each of the graphs is an opportunity for a school to reflect and understand what percentage of students are impacted and how they might approach their response to the data.

Another graph that you're going to see on page two of the early preliminary report, focuses on the AEDC summary indicators. As part of an approach to reporting, the AEDC provides summary indicators, which gives an idea of the percentage of students in your school who are vulnerable on one or more domain, or who are vulnerable on two or more domains. Basically, this means that the child has a vulnerability in at least one domain, or maybe two domains, or the child has vulnerability in more than two domains. As you can see from the graph, it also provides a trend from 2009 to 2021. There are two main graphs here and the grey coloured graph gives an idea of the number or percentage of children who are vulnerable on one or more domain. Between 2009, there was a big drop to 2012. And then there was an increase in 2015 and then the decline again in 2018. In 2021, there has been an increase.

This is specific to the school where this data was extracted from. With the purple line, you can see that the trend also has a similar movement across the years, but then there has been an increase in the percentage of children who are vulnerable on two or more domains.

This is also important in informing the school's approach, if it needs to be a targeted approach or needs to be a whole cohort approach for a school. So basically the AEDC summary indicators provides a high level summary that a school can use to inform their decision-making. It’s one of the graphs that is available on page two of your early preliminary school snapshot.

Accessing your school's early preliminary school snapshot.

For you to access your early preliminary school snapshot, you need to go onto the AEDC portal where the data collection was completed. Your AEDC 2021 school coordinator needs to sign into the AEDC 2021 data collection portal, which is found at datacollection.aedc.gov.au/login. So only the AEDC school coordinator who finalised the collection at your school has access to the portal where they can download the reports. Step two, look around the school coordinator's dashboard.

This is going to give you an indication or you're going to see the pink box that provides the download button for the report. Step three, download the report. The school report is available on the dashboard with a download down arrow. Download the report by clicking on the download arrow on the dashboard. This allows you to view the report as a PDF document. Now that you've downloaded your report, what's the next step? The next step is to review the trend for your school over the five collection cycles on each graph, that is each graph for the domains, the five domains and also the summary indicators. All of this will be found in page two of your early preliminary report.

Once you're reviewing that, there are a few questions that can guide your thinking. First, is there a pattern in the five domains? Is there consistency across all domains? What is increasing or declining? What could be influencing the trend and the pattern observed? What has been done differently to influence any observed pattern? If there has been changes in any one domain, or in all the domains, or no changes at all, is important to reflect on why the situation has remained the same, or what has informed the change that you are observing. Reflect on how you might respond to the full school profile when you receive it in November, as this contains more information from the data collection. The school profile provides more information and contextual information that can support your interpretation of the AEDC domain outcomes.

So what information is available in the AEDC school profile? The AEDC school profile includes summary demographic characteristics. These include: the mean age of children that participated, gender, Indigenous status, language background, and involvement in before school education and care. It's important to note at this Stage that AEDC is reported at a group level and not at an individual student level. So what you're going to receive will show percentage in terms of what percentage of the students at a particular age, what percentage of the students have an Indigenous status or not. Or what percentage of the students are Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal students.

Transition to school summary.

Within the school profile, the full school profile that you're going to receive, there are a few questions that are asked around the student's transition in school. So these questions include, is a child making good progress in adapting to school? Family engagement in children's learning and in school. Child support needs, in terms of which includes special needs status, and also absenteeism.

So, these are some of the questions that the teachers responded to, but some of them such as attendance is based on some administrative data in most instances so it looks at the record of the student's attendance. The school profile is going to have the school AEDC domain data. It's going to reflect on the data for each domain and provide more details on the number and percentage of students, who are either on track, who are vulnerable, or who aren't. It is important to pay attention to the percentage of children who are vulnerable or at risk to inform your decision.

AEDC school profile.

This is an example of what one of the domains as reported within the AEDC school profile. In this instance, we can see the language and cognitive skills, which is school-based. It gives you an idea of what area each domain, this domain covers. So this domain measures children's basic literacy, advanced literacy, basic numeracy and interest in literacy, numeracy, and memory.

For each of the domains in the full school profile, there's going to be a brief description that tells you what the domain covers and measures. You can see from this page, we have the percentage of children on track, at risk, and vulnerable. Also, it's going to compare the result in terms of what outcome is it for particular school. And then the state level outcomes and Australia wide outcomes. So, in this way, it's easy for you to assess if your school is doing well and on track compared in a broader context of New South Wales and nationally, or if your school is actually lagging behind. I'll also note that it's important to also consider looking at your community level data, which is where the students come from and it's going to help to contextualise your findings.

On this same page, we can see how many children are developmentally vulnerable, at risk, or on track. So not only does it provide a percentage, it provides the exact number of children. This is particularly important because 10% of 500 students is very different from 10% of 50 students. So it informs how much resources will be required and also the energy or the effort required for any intervention that is being planned. On each of the domain page, you're going to have a brief description of what it means to be developmentally on track, to be developmentally at risk, and also to be developmentally vulnerable.

What can schools use the AEDC data for?

Schools can use the AEDC data to raise awareness of the capabilities of children in the community. Increase understanding of the context of children. They can use the data to plan for transition to school and support continuity to have learning. Schools can also use the data to inform curriculum planning that builds on children's capacities. Also, the data can be used to inform collaboration, partnerships, planning for diversity in student population and practise improvement. It's important to look at the data from different aspect of practise.

In terms of planning, collaboration or partnerships, if for instance, students are lagging in terms of language or communication skills, the school might want to consider bringing in a speech therapist to support students in Kindergarten. If it's emotional maturity or social skills, the school might consider bringing in a psychologist to support the students at any given time. It could also mean like a community approach where the whole community employs the services of a psychologist or a speech therapist to support students from a community level. The AEDC data is particularly relevant with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and what the long-term impact might be for children. So, some of the impact, there's been quite a bit of research already indicating some of the early impact or the early implications of the restrictions as a result of COVID-19. However, it's important to note that impact might be long term and the repercussions might not just be observable just now.

AEDC outcomes are predicted by, one, preschool attendance. Preschool attendance reduces vulnerability. Play group attendance also helps reduce vulnerability. Child protection notifications, however, on the other hand, increases the risk of vulnerability. So it's important to know that some of these factors are quite important to consider. Do students have access to preschool within the community? Do students have access to play group within the community? Are there risk factors that mean that children within the community might be at risk of having contact with child protection services before they commence school? Research has also found that even if it's just one phone call or contact that has been made to child protection services, it has a great likelihood that a child is going to have one vulnerability at least when they commence school.

AEDC outcome predicts literacy and numeracy outcomes, especially as measured in NAPLAN. It also helps to predict student wellbeing, mental health disorders. So it's useful to be able to reflect on the AEDC in terms of long-term outcomes for a student. With regards to literacy and numeracy, the more domains a child is vulnerable in, the increased likelihood that they are going to be impacted negatively in their NAPLAN reading up until Year 7, as well as NAPLAN numeracy. In this chart, for instance, you can see that if a child is vulnerable on one domain, then they are less than 20% likely to be impacted in their NAPLAN outcomes. Also, as it increases to one, to two, to three, four, or maybe being at risk or vulnerable in the five domains, there is an increased likelihood up until 60% that a child might be impacted, or their performance over the school years might be impacted.

The AEDC data is a national evidence base for schools to engage with, as part of their, first of all, reflection on what to focus on in their school improvement plan and strategic improvement plan. This is particularly important for government schools in New South Wales. Schools can also engage with the AEDC when planning for the implementation of the School Excellence Framework. They can engage with AEDC when planning for, and implementing the Wellbeing Framework for Schools. This is because it's important that students are able to connect and they feel that they can succeed and they get to try. So not just feeling like they can succeed, but they actually succeed and thrive. So all these frameworks are particularly important to public schools in New South Wales. But there are also similar frameworks that other sectors can engage with and reflect on in terms of school planning and school improvement.

The AEDC, as earlier mentioned, predicts social and emotional wellbeing. There are different aspects that can be impacted. So you can look at it in terms of the emotional wellbeing. It’s important to also note, at this point that each of the domains has sub-domain indicators that help to inform what the overall domain score is. It is within these indicators, that once you look closely at your own pattern, some of these factors can be identified and AEDC has been seen to be able to predict outcomes for these areas in the long term. So with emotional wellbeing, areas that can be impacted or predicted by AEDC outcomes include, life satisfaction, optimism, sadness, worry, happiness, emotion regulation, even up into the senior years, which also goes from Year 10 to Year 12.

Psychological distress and resilience can also be an area that AEDC can predict quite early on. Then we have engagement with schools. This includes areas of connectedness to adult at school, culture climate, school belonging, peer belonging, friendship, intimacy, bullying and victimisation, emotional engagement with teachers, and cognitive engagement. Similarly, it can be a good predictor in terms of learning readiness. So we have areas or other areas of learning readiness to include academic self-concept, perseverance, engagement. Going up into the senior years, only between Year 10 to 12, we have areas such as academic self-efficacy, perfectionistic striving, perfectionistic concerns, hope, which is hope-agency, hope-pathways, feelings about the future and feelings about after school work.

Another area that AEDC predicts include their health and wellbeing in terms of out-of-school context. This also includes physical health, breakfast, sleep, electronic device use before sleep, after-school activities, barriers to attending after-school activities. Basically, these factors play an important role in influencing AEDC outcomes, but also the AEDC outcomes can be used to understand how these factors are impacted. There are reflective questions to consider. This has to do with questions you can use as a prompt to start thinking about how you might want to respond to your AEDC outcomes. So how can the AEDC data inform your school improvement plan? What information does AEDC data add to other school data sets that you might have access to? These include Best Start Kindergarten and Transition to School Statements.

More information and support.

The AEDC, National AEDC webpage, which also has the National data explorer webpage, will allow you to download your community level data. There is additional information there that can help you to understand how you might want to respond to your AEDC data. There are lots of examples of how other schools or communities have responded to the AEDC data. AEDC New South Wales also has a course and the name of the course is: Australian Early Development Census New South Wales Online Professional Learning. This course can be accessed by both Department of Education and non-Department of Education employees. The course code is NRG11777 and it is an elective professional development course.

The course is available to all and you can follow the steps in the document on how to create an account to complete the course. Creating an account will allow you access the Department of Education MyPL, which is My Professional Learning Page. AEDC New South Wales also has a webpage that has lots of information about the domains. It provides like the domain guides and case study examples of how other schools and other services or communities have engaged with the AEDC data.

Earlier in the year, AEDC New South Wales had a research symposium and the recording from those sessions are now available on the webpage. So you can go through and watch some sessions that provided the research evidence and backing, but also some practical examples on how to engage with the AEDC data or how to respond to the AEDC data at the school, community, and also in broader level.

AEDC New South Wales contact information.

If you need more support, you can contact the AEDC team by calling 1300 083 698. You can email aedc@det.nsw.edu.au The team is willing and available to provide targeted workshops. If, for instance, you want to unpack your school level data or you want to unpack your community level data to have a better understanding of how to respond, the team within the Department supports you with such workshops or seminars that can help you and your staff to respond to the AEDC data. I'd like to thank you all for engaging with this course. I hope it's been useful.

You can always access more information on the AEDC New South Wales or AEDC National webpage. Don't hesitate to contact the team if you need more targeted and specific support. They will always respond to your questions or provide you with a workshop and resources that you need. Thank you very much.

[End of transcript]


  • AEDC

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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