Large Achievement Gaps Between Advantaged and Disadvantaged Students Continue

New NAPLAN results for 2017 show continuing large achievement gaps between disadvantaged students and those from highly educated families. The gaps have increased between students from highly and lowly educated families since 2008, but have narrowed between high education status students and Indigenous students. Continue reading “Large Achievement Gaps Between Advantaged and Disadvantaged Students Continue”

Community Schools Are a Successful Strategy for School Improvement

Community schools can be a successful strategy for improving schools according to a new review of research studies and program evaluations. It found strong evidence that well-implemented community schools contribute to school improvement, particularly in the case of high-poverty schools. It is a strategy that should be considered by the Gonski review on how funding should be used to improve school performance and student achievement.

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Factors Contributing to School Success by Disadvantaged Students

A key issue to be addressed by the new Gonski review is how to improve school outcomes for disadvantaged students. A new US study contributes to this by examining disadvantaged students’ own perceptions of what it takes to succeed at school. It found that strong peer relationships, caring supportive teachers, family and community support, and strong motivations all contribute significantly to school success by disadvantaged students.

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Inclusion Rules the Day

Couple insensitivity with ignorance and very little good will follow. With a little luck, we will avoid the worst of the damage that could come from Senator Pauline Hanson’s public outburst, in which she argued for the removal of children with autism from mainstream schools. The public outrage her remarks evoked has been encouraging.

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Big Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots in Australian Education

The following is an abridged media release announcing a new report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) at Curtin University on inequality in education in Australia.

The BCEC’s latest report, Educate Australia Fair?: Education Inequality in Australia, examines the extent of educational disadvantage across and within Australia’s states and territories and among vulnerable groups.

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Social Segregation in Australian Schools is Amongst the Highest in the World

A new report released by the OECD shows that social segregation in Australian schools is amongst the highest in the world. Australia has the 8th highest rate of social segregation out of 71 countries participating in the OECD’s Programme of International Students Assessments in 2015. Australia’s social segregation is also the 4th highest in the OECD.

This is one of the most alarming results to come out of PISA 2015. It shows that social apartheid is an enduring feature of Australia’s school system. Students are sharply divided by social class in schools. Other research shows staggering levels of ethnic and religious segregation in schools.

Social segregation in schools has dire consequences for education outcomes and the nature of our society. It is a key factor behind the high inequity in education in Australia as evidenced by the large achievement gaps between high socio-economic status (SES) students and low SES, Indigenous and remote area students. It allows privileged groups to maintain and enhance their advantages. It allows prejudice and social discrimination to hold sway.

School choice policies in Australia have compounded the effects of housing segregation. Government funding policies have fostered the expansion of private schools and have denuded many public schools of the resources they need to provide quality learning opportunities and outcomes for their students. Many advantaged families have abandoned their local public school in a search for better-resourced, high quality schools. The result has been an increasing concentration of disadvantaged students in some public schools and increasing concentration of advantaged students in others.

Governments must ensure that all schools are excellent schools. This requires increased funding for disadvantaged schools to provide them with the human and material resources necessary to provide high quality learning opportunities for their students. This can be financed by re-directing government funding from private schools whose total income exceeds that of public schools to disadvantaged public and private schools.

Ensuring that all local schools are excellent, well-resourced schools would reduce the incentive for families to look for more advantaged schools outside their local area. It would make for a better social mix of students in public schools. Continue reading “Social Segregation in Australian Schools is Amongst the Highest in the World”

Call to Change School Uniforms for Girls

Girls’ Uniform Agenda are leading a movement across Australia to challenge and change current school uniforms. Many schools across Australia, at both the primary and secondary level, require girls to wear dresses and skirts to school, and turning up in shorts or pants will see girls given detention. As girls wear shorts and pants in every other aspect of their lives in Australia, and boys wear shorts and pants to school, it is direct discrimination to refuse to allow them to wear shorts and pants to school because of their gender. Continue reading “Call to Change School Uniforms for Girls”

The Benefits of Socio-Economic and Racial Diversity in Schools

A newly published research brief shows the importance of school compositional effects on student outcomes. While it is based on studies conducted in the United States, the study has important implications for Australia. It shows that both socio-economic and racial diversity in schools are beneficial to students in terms of academic results and social understanding. It points to the importance of supporting socio-economically and racially diverse schools. Continue reading “The Benefits of Socio-Economic and Racial Diversity in Schools”

Effective Ways of Improving Achievement by Low SES Students

A major new meta-analysis of academic studies on ways to improve the school results of low socio-economic status (SES) students has identified several interventions that substantially improve achievement. They include small group tutoring, feedback and progress monitoring and co-operative learning in the classroom. Several other interventions also have smaller positive effects on achievement. Continue reading “Effective Ways of Improving Achievement by Low SES Students”

Huge Disparities Between the Resources of Disadvantaged and Advantaged Schools

The latest report on Australia’s results in PISA 2015 shows huge disparities in shortages of educational staff and physical resources between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in Australia. It is more evidence of the need to improve the resourcing of disadvantaged schools and increase learning opportunities for their students. Continue reading “Huge Disparities Between the Resources of Disadvantaged and Advantaged Schools”