Federal Education Dept Befuddled by Pyne’s Funding Increase Claims

The recent Senate Estimates hearings revealed that the Federal Department of Education and Training could not justify Christopher Pyne’s often repeated claim that school funding has increased by 40 per cent in the last 10 years.

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Lessons That Matter From East Asian Education

The success of East Asian countries in international tests has led to a flurry of interest in many other countries, including Australia, to analyse the reasons for this success and apply the lessons. However, a paper published last month by internationally renowned educator, Yong Zhao, shows that East Asian countries are abandoning education practices and policies that many outside observers have praised. The targets for reform are the very education practices and policies that have been praised by outside observers – national curriculum, high-stakes testing, meritocracy, direct instruction, and long school hours.

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Low SES Students Do Better Than High SES Students at University

A report by the Victoria Institute for Strategic Economic Studies shows that first year students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds at Victoria University achieve better results than high SES students. It also found that students from lower performing schools seem to perform better than their peers from elite schools.

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Improving Equity in Education Increases Economic Growth

Two recently-published studies show that inequality in education is a significant factor affecting economic growth. Both studies find that income inequality limits economic growth because low income families tend to have low education outcomes. The studies recommend policies to improve the education outcomes of disadvantaged students.  Improving the education outcomes of these children would increase workforce skills, productivity, incomes and economic output.

One study was published by the OECD last December. The other study was published in February by the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE), a think tank sponsored by the European Commission. It was done by economists from the University of Sydney and the London School of Economics.

The studies have important implications for education policy in Australia. Although income and education inequality in Australia is less than in many OECD countries they are significant. In particular, a large proportion of children from low socio-economic backgrounds do not achieve an adequate education and there are large gaps in achievement between rich and poor. Increasing the education outcomes of these children would not only increase their life chances but would also increase economic growth.

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P-TECH Schools are Unproven and Threaten Public Education

The following is a summary of an Education Policy Brief by Save Our Schools on P-TECH schools. The full Brief can be downloaded below.

Last year, the Federal Government announced $0.5 million funding for a new type of school in Australia incorporating high school education and two years of tertiary training. It is based on the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) school in Brooklyn, New York, established by the giant IT multinational IBM and now being rolled out in several US cities. The model is personally endorsed by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Under the proposal, two existing schools in Ballarat and Geelong will be converted into P-TECH schools.

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OECD Report Shows That Refusing to Fund Gonski is Short-Sighted

A new OECD report shows that the refusal of the Federal Government and several state governments to commit to the full Gonski funding plan is incredibly short-sighted. It will mean substantially lower economic growth over the next 80 years than could be achieved by getting all students to a basic skill level at school.

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Australia Has High Quality, but Mixed School Outcomes

The following is a summary of a working paper published by SOS. It reviews a range of school outcomes in Australia. The paper can be downloaded below. It is the first in a series of working papers to be published in coming months on equity in education and school funding in Australia. Comments are invited on the paper and can be sent to SOS at saveourschools690@gmail.com. References will be included in the final version, but are available on request.

Australia has a high quality education system. It has high average results in reading, mathematics and science by international standards and it ranks consistently amongst the top performing countries. Australia is one of the top performers in all-round results. However, Australia’s international test results have largely stagnated or declined over the past 15 years.  Australia is one of few countries whose PISA results for 15 year old students have declined in the last decade.

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Massive Fraud and Waste in US Charter Schools

A report has detailed fraud and waste in charter schools in the United States totalling over $200 million in 2014 and 2015. The report says that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg and that the federal, state and local governments stand to lose more than $1.4 billion because of regulatory failure.

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More Years of Education Improves Health

A new Australian study has shown that extending the years of education improves health outcomes. The study shows that more education improves people’s diet and their tendency to have more regular exercise but not necessarily to avoid risky health behaviours such as smoking. The results imply that increasing the proportion of students, particularly low SES students, who complete Year 12 will have a positive effect on health outcomes.

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