Data standards manual: Student background characteristics

The Data Standards Manual: Student Background Characteristics provides information to assist schools and school systems to collect student background information from parents as agreed by the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC, from 1 July 2014 known as Education Council). The nationally comparable data collected are required to:

  • monitor and report on progress towards the achievement of national goals and targets at various points of schooling, and

  • to provide the evidence base to underpin future policy reforms and improvement.

Information is collected from students’ parents (or guardians) via enrolment forms on students:
  • sex

  • Indigenous status

  • socioeconomic background

  • language background

The student background information is linked to students’ results in the various components of the National Assessment Program (NAP).
The reporting of student outcomes data, disaggregated by the agreed student background characteristics, is a standard component of national performance reporting requirements and applies to all government and non-government schools. It is the responsibility of schools and school systems to review and adjust their data collection tools and data processing procedures to ensure that their collections incorporate the standard definitions, question modules and data coding structure for each of the variables, as per the technical specifications provided in the Manual.
The manual describes what is involved and what it means in practical terms for schools, school systems, test administration authorities and assessment contractors. The manual is intended for school and school system personnel responsible for:
  • designing enrolment forms and enrolment processes

  • collecting information from parents

  • designing, maintaining or modifying student information storage and retrieval systems

  • updating student records

  • managing or coordinating at the school level students’ participation in full cohort literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) testing, and national or international sample assessments.

The manual also provides information for test administration authorities and software providers.
Previous publications of the manual prior to this revision are available on the Education Council website.
The sixth edition of the manual and its attachments can be downloaded as one complete document or, for convenience, as separate documents.

Background and purpose of the manual
     Purpose of the manual
     Who should use the manual?

     Data quality assurance
     Existing users
     New users
     Help for schools
     Privacy requirements
Technical specifications
     How information is collected, stored and reported for each of the background characteristics
     Indigenous status
     Parental school education
     Parental non-school education
     Parental occupation group
     Main language other than English spoken at home
     Country of birth
The manual is accompanied by seven attachments:
Attachment 1a: Checklist for existing users
Attachment 1b: Checklist for new users
Attachment 2: Sample data collection forms
Attachment 3: Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) 2011 coding index
Attachment 4: Main languages spoken, for Australia and by State/Territory
Attachment 5: Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) 2011 coding index
Attachment 6: Main countries of birth, for Australia and by State/Territory
Attachment 7: Glossary