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”

‘Free Schools’ Will Increase Social Segregation

The new UK coalition government is rushing legislation through to allow parents, teachers and charities to set up their own schools in England from next year. The schools are modelled on the privately run, but publicly funded, “free schools” operating in Sweden. They are also similar to charter schools operating in the United States.

A leading academic has warned that they are likely to lead to increased social segregation in schools. Dr Susanne Wiborg, from the Institute of Education at the University of London, said that several studies show that school choice in Sweden has “augmented social and ethnic segregation, particularly in relation to schools in deprived areas”. Continue reading “‘Free Schools’ Will Increase Social Segregation”

New Evidence of Massive Achievement Gaps Between Rich and Poor in Australia

New studies published by academics at Murdoch University show massive achievement gaps between rich and poor in Australia’s schools. Students from low income families in low socio-economic status (SES) schools are nearly four years behind students from high income families in high SES schools in reading, mathematics and science.

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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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My School Results Mark the Failure of the Stanhope Govt. on Education

The school results published on the My School website are highly misleading as a guide for parents on comparative school quality. Up to 90% of the difference in school test results is explained by differences in student background – socio-economic, gender, ethnicity, Indigenous and students with disabilities. The large part of the variation is explained by differences in the socio-economic composition of schools, even with the flawed measure used by My School.

Parents can also be misled in assuming that their child will be in a ‘better’ class in a high scoring school than in a lower scoring school. The variation in test scores is much greater within schools than between schools. This means that a school with higher scores than another will likely have classes that perform worse than the best classes in the lower achieving school.

Despite its many flaws, however, My School does reveal information about school systems which can be used to hold governments accountable for their education policies.

For the ACT, it marks the comprehensive failure of the education policies of the Stanhope Government. It demonstrates massive achievement gaps between students from rich and poor families that still exist after nearly a decade of the Stanhope Government.

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Save Our Schools Calls for Major Effort to Reduce the Achievement Gap in ACT Schools

Representatives of Save Our Schools have told an inquiry into the achievement gap in ACT schools that there is a large difference in school results between students from high and low income families. They told the Education Committee of the ACT Legislative Assembly that the gap is large by national and international standards and it will require a major funding effort to remove.

A statement presented at a hearing of the Committee by Trevor Cobbold and Professor Ian Morgan says that the achievement gap between students from low and high socio-economic status (SES) families is the largest in Australia, apart from the Northern Territory. Low SES students are about 2½ years of schooling behind their high SES peers on average.

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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”