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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SOS Policy Brief on the New National Goals for Education

A Policy Brief published by Save Our Schools shows that the new national Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (the Melbourne Declaration) promulgated by Australian education ministers at the end of 2008 fails on equity.

It fails on two grounds. It weakens the previous national commitment to improve social equity in education and it introduces a new policy commitment on reporting school results which will exacerbate inequities in student outcomes. Continue reading “SOS Policy Brief on the New National Goals for Education”

The Achievement Gap in Higher Education

A report issued by Universities Australia shows that students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds have much lower rates of participation in higher education in Australia than higher SES students.

Students from low SES backgrounds are under-represented in Australian higher education and are about one-third as likely to participate in higher education as students from high SES backgrounds. Continue reading “The Achievement Gap in Higher Education”

Massive Achievement Gaps Revealed

The recent report of the NSW Auditor-General on improving literacy and numeracy in NSW government schools reveals massive achievement gaps between students from rich and poor families and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

It shows that the NSW Government has made little to no progress since 1999 in meeting its commitment under the National Goals for Schooling that learning outcomes of disadvantaged students match those of other students.

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Student Outcomes Stagnate Under Stanhope Govt.

Save Our Schools has released a 55-page study which shows that student outcomes in the ACT have stagnated since 2001 when the Stanhope Government was first elected. SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that the report is a damning indictment of the Government’s record in education.

The study is a comprehensive review of student outcomes on a range of international and national tests covering reading, mathematics, science, civics and citizenship and ICT literacy at different Year levels. It also includes data on retention and completion rates to Year 12.

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Choice or Equity in Education?

This paper, by Trevor Cobbold, was delivered to the Education Summit in Sydney in June 2008.

It argues that choice has failed the promise of its advocates to improve education outcomes and that it has not only deflected education systems from dealing with the major challenge of inequity in education, but has exacerbated inequity. Continue reading “Choice or Equity in Education?”

Social Equity in Education as a National Goal

Save Our Schools supports the social equity goal of the existing National Goals for Schooling.

It opposes replacing this goal with the much weaker commitment to high quality schooling free of discrimination as proposed in the draft National Declaration on the Goals for Schooling.

The Future of Schooling in Australia report fails to make a case for this change. The large achievement gaps between students from low and high socio-economic status families and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are the major challenges facing the Australian school system.

Achieving social equity in school outcomes should remain a key national goal for schooling.

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A Vision for 2020: Achieve Equity in Education

The following statement was prepared by Save Our Schools in the context of the 2020 Summit. It is intended to contribute to the ongoing public dialogue about the priorities in school education in Australia.

It says that the priority is to improve equity in education, that all children should receive an adequate education and that students from different social groups should receive similar education outcomes. Continue reading “A Vision for 2020: Achieve Equity in Education”

False Claims by Minister on ACER Report

The Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, claimed last week that the report on student performance commissioned from the Australian Educational Research Council (ACER) shows that “our lowest socio-economic students performed better than their counterparts anywhere else in Australia” [ABC News, 26 March 2008]. He also made a similar claim in a media release on the report.

This claim is false. The ACER report clearly shows that 15 year old students from the lowest socio-economic status (SES) levels do no better than those in at least several other states.

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