Speech on Achievement Gaps and School Funding in Australia

National Convenor of Save Our Schools, Trevor Cobbold, presented a paper on achievement gaps and school funding in Australia to the Annual Conference of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia in Canberra on 14 October.

The paper discusses the extent of achievement gaps between different groups of students, why equity in education matters and shows that the vast majority of educationally disadvantaged students are enrolled in government schools. Given these challenges, government schools are severely under-resourced compared to private schools. Yet, the largest increases in government funding have gone to private schools over the past decade.

A massive increase in funding for government schools is needed to close achievement gaps in Australia and turn its high quality, low equity school system into a high quality, high equity system.

Closing the Achievement Gaps in Australian Schools

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Students from Disadvantaged Schools do as well at University as Other Students

Students from disadvantaged schools did as well as those from other government and private schools in first-year subjects at the University of Sydney last year and actually did better than students from all other schools, excluding government selective schools.

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Window of Opportunity to Improve Equity in Education

The crucial role of Green and independent support for the new Gillard minority government has created a window of opportunity for a serious effort to close the huge achievement gaps in our schools and improve equity in education. The focus should be to address the large burden of education disadvantage carried by government schools.

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Unlocking the Gates of School Segregation

The children’s charity, Bernado’s says that impenetrable “clusters of privilege” are forming around the best state schools in England. In a report released last week, Bernado’s says that privileged children are monopolising the top state schools in England and poorer families are losing out in a complex and unfair system.

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Reducing the Achievement Gap Between Rich and Poor is a National Priority

The massive achievement gap between rich and poor is the biggest challenge facing Australian education today. Australia has amongst the best results in the world, but also a very large achievement gap between rich and poor.

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Computers Widen Achievement Gap in Schools

A new study of home computer use in the United States has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons on programs to provide students with computers for use at home. It found that greater access to computers and high speed internet reduces reading and mathematics achievement and increases racial and socio-economic achievement gaps. Continue reading “Computers Widen Achievement Gap in Schools”

Social Segregation in Schools Blights Children and Society

Chris Bonnor, co-author of The Stupid Country, and Professor Richard Teese from Melbourne University have raised the spectre of increasing social segregation in Australia’s schools Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July and 8 July]. They have pointed to the increasing social division as more students from richer families attend private and selective government schools while low income students attend other government schools. Australian education is under threat from increasing “social and academic apartheid” according to Bonnor.

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Student Results in Australia are High, but Very Unequal and not Improving

The latest results from the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) generated a wave of self-congratulation from Education Ministers around Australia which should be qualified.

While student achievement remains high, there has been little improvement in recent years and there is a large gap in the results of rich and poor students. Reducing this gap is the greatest challenge facing Australian education. Continue reading “Student Results in Australia are High, but Very Unequal and not Improving”

Blame for School Achievement Gap Misplaced

A new report published in the US this week highlights a major problem that will come to the fore in Australia with the publication of school league tables. This is the tendency to blame schools for low levels of student achievement and gaps between rich and poor students without regard to factors outside schools that continually impact on student achievement.

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Large Achievement Gaps Revealed in Victorian Schools

A new report by the Victorian Auditor-General on literacy and numeracy achievement in Victorian government schools has cast more light on the achievement gaps between students.

It shows very large achievement gaps between high-achieving and low-achieving students, between students from rich and poor families and between regions in Victoria. It also shows that these achievement gaps have not reduced over the past 10 years.

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