The Benefits of Socio-Economically and Racially Integrated Schools

A recent OECD report shows that Australia has one of the most socio-economically segregated school systems in the OECD and in the world. It also shows that Australia had the equal largest increase in social segregation in the OECD and the world since 2006.

A research brief recently published by The Century Foundation in the United States outlines the benefits of socio-economic and racial integration in schools (references are available in the original which can be downloaded below). Research shows that socio-economic and racial diversity in schools provides a range of academic, cognitive, social and economic benefits.

The following is a slightly edited version of the brief. An earlier more detailed paper is also available from the Foundation titled A Bold Agenda for School Integration.

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New School Facilities Matter for Student Achievement

A paper presented to the annual conference of the American Economic Association in January that examined the largest school construction program ever in the United States found strong evidence that it lead to improvements in test scores, attendance and student effort. It also found that the construction program increased neighbourhood house prices.

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Teacher Unions Benefit Schools and Students

Strong teacher unions are critical to improving equity in school funding according to a new study published in the academic journal Review of Economics and Statistics. They also play a major role in translating funding increases into increases in student achievement.

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Bonuses Increase Retention of High-Quality Teacher and Student Achievement in Disadvantaged Schools

One of the challenges to improving results in highly disadvantaged schools is recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. Disadvantaged schools often have high teacher turnover which impacts on student achievement. A new US study has found that selective retention bonuses for high quality teachers leads to increases in student achievement in high poverty schools.

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A Public Inquiry into ACT School Results Is Long Overdue

An ACT Legislative Assembly Committee report on student test results has re-ignited the controversy over school performance. It draws on several reports showing under-performance in comparison with other states and recommends a public inquiry into the causes.

A full public inquiry is even more necessary than suggested by the Committee. It is needed to address the poor results of disadvantaged students and high inequity in outcomes between rich and poor as well as general under-performance relative to the ACT’s demographic characteristics.

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Empathy is the Key to Teacher-Student Relationships

If you ask a group of educators, from any sector what is the most important feature of successful teacher/student interaction invariably you get the answer relationships.  And I would agree.  However, personal relationships are hard work even when both parties are committed to having such a connection.  It is a challenge when the relationship you need is between a teacher and an angry, oppositional student.  It is obvious that it will be up to that teacher to build that relationship, not only is that connection a prerequisite for engagement, how else are they going to participate, it really is an ethical duty.

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Class Sizes will be “The Biggest Ever” Boasts President Trump

Doubling down on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent claim that students “can learn better with larger classes, with more students to collaborate with, to learn with,” President Trump this morning bragged that the U.S. will lead the world in class size. “Under President Trump, our classes will be huge. They’ll be the biggest, most beautiful class sizes you’ve ever seen, believe me!”

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US Senate Bill Proposes Smaller Class Sizes for High-Poverty School Districts

Following a year of teacher strikes where educators in West Virginia, Los Angeles, Denver and beyond called for wage increases and reduced class sizes, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced a new bill to incentivize smaller class sizes in kindergarten and first, second and third grades. The legislation, which would allocate $2 billion for competitive grant funding, primarily to high-poverty school districts in the United States, is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO). The bill is also endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and First Focus Campaign for Children.

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The Dishonourable Lie

How often have we all sat through those frustrating meetings where someone from head office or a university articulates with such commitment the first lie – if you can’t measure it then it’s not worth doing.  This quantification of education based on an economically rational approach started in the sixties.  This was the dawn of outcomes-based learning. 

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