Study Finds that School SES has a Strong Impact on Student Achievement

A new study published in the latest issue of the British Educational Research Journal shows that the socio-economic composition of schools has a large effect on student achievement. A student attending a school with low average socio-economic status (SES) tends to have lower school outcomes than a student from a similar family background attending a school with high average student SES.

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Low SES Students Do Better Than High SES Students at University

A report by the Victoria Institute for Strategic Economic Studies shows that first year students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds at Victoria University achieve better results than high SES students. It also found that students from lower performing schools seem to perform better than their peers from elite schools.

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Improving Equity in Education Increases Economic Growth

Two recently-published studies show that inequality in education is a significant factor affecting economic growth. Both studies find that income inequality limits economic growth because low income families tend to have low education outcomes. The studies recommend policies to improve the education outcomes of disadvantaged students.  Improving the education outcomes of these children would increase workforce skills, productivity, incomes and economic output.

One study was published by the OECD last December. The other study was published in February by the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE), a think tank sponsored by the European Commission. It was done by economists from the University of Sydney and the London School of Economics.

The studies have important implications for education policy in Australia. Although income and education inequality in Australia is less than in many OECD countries they are significant. In particular, a large proportion of children from low socio-economic backgrounds do not achieve an adequate education and there are large gaps in achievement between rich and poor. Increasing the education outcomes of these children would not only increase their life chances but would also increase economic growth.

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Improving Equity in Education Boosts Economic Growth and Health

The Gonski funding plan is directed at improving equity in education by lifting school results for disadvantaged students. Several studies published in the last few months show that there are significant benefits associated with greater equity in education. Continue reading “Improving Equity in Education Boosts Economic Growth and Health”

Mixed Schools Make for a More Socially Tolerant Society

Young people in schools with ethnically diverse classrooms are likely to have more favourable attitudes towards immigrants, according to a new international study from the Institute of Education at the University College London. This is particularly true when there are many second-generation immigrants in the class. Continue reading “Mixed Schools Make for a More Socially Tolerant Society”

OECD Says Australia is ‘Low Equity’ in Educational Resources

A new look at the 2012 PISA results published last week by the OECD shows that socially advantaged schools in Australia have far greater educational resources than disadvantaged schools. Australia has the fifth largest resource disparity out of 34 OECD countries and one of the largest of all countries participating in PISA.

The OECD’s new PISA in Focus labels Australia as “low equity” in education resource allocation. The resource gap is a factor in the large achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in Australia. It highlights the need for Australia to devote more resources to disadvantaged students. Continue reading “OECD Says Australia is ‘Low Equity’ in Educational Resources”

Call to Keep Funding Loadings for Disadvantaged Students

A new education policy brief published by Save Our Schools has confirmed the need for higher funding loadings for schools with greater concentration of disadvantaged students. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that a proposal by Independent Schools Victoria to remove additional funding for highly disadvantaged schools should be rejected by the Federal Government. Continue reading “Call to Keep Funding Loadings for Disadvantaged Students”

It is the Funding Stupid: Fixing Remote Indigenous Student Attendance

The Commonwealth has recently announced yet another Remote Schools Attendance Strategy focused on improving attendance through the funding of a cadre of school attendance officers and supervisors in identified communities across Australia. In fact it is one of the very few initiatives focusing on Indigenous students that the Commonwealth is continuing to fund.

Attendance is also a key priority for the Northern Territory Government (NTG). The NTG has recently published for final report of Bruce Wilson’s extensive Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory called “A Share in the Future”. This Report underscores the importance of continuing to focus on improvements to attendance in spite of poor progress and makes a number of related recommendations. Continue reading “It is the Funding Stupid: Fixing Remote Indigenous Student Attendance”

New Data on the Education Divide Between Rich and Poor

A new paper published last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that students in higher income families do better in NAPLAN than students from lower income families. It says that a strong relationship is apparent between household income and children’s NAPLAN results across reading, writing and numeracy.

There is a consistent trend for children from households with better socioeconomic circumstances to perform better in NAPLAN, confirming that socioeconomic status and parental characteristics are a significant factor in student performance.

The paper analyses newly integrated data on the socioeconomic context of school achievement in Tasmania and the outcomes for Tasmanian Year 12 graduates and early school leavers. The information is based on the integration of Tasmanian school enrolments and National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data, provided by the Department of Education Tasmania, and Census of Population and Housing data.

In Tasmanian households with an income under $400 a week, more than one in ten children scored below the national minimum standard for numeracy compared with only one in forty children in households with a weekly income of $2500 or more. A similar pattern is apparent for reading and writing.

The paper also found that Tasmanian students with lower NAPLAN results are less likely to continue on to Year 12. While 39% of Tasmanian students left school before enrolling in Year 12, this rate varied depending on their 2008 Year 9 NAPLAN reading score. Students with lower NAPLAN reading scores were less likely to enrol in Year 12. Only 5% of students with the highest reading results left school before enrolling in Year 12, compared with 57% of those who scored below the national minimum standard.

Students from the most disadvantaged areas were more likely than those from the most advantaged areas to leave school before Year 12 across all except the lowest band of NAPLAN scores. For example, of the students with scores in Band 6 (the national minimum standard) for reading in Year 9, less than half (43%) of students from the most advantaged areas left before Year 12 compared with 58% of students from the most disadvantaged areas.

The paper also analysed outcomes for a range of other population sub-groups in Tasmania.

Students from families where no parent was employed at the time of the Census were far more likely to score below the national minimum standard for numeracy, reading and writing. For example, 18% of students in couple families where neither parent was employed and 15% of students in one parent families where their parent was not employed did not meet the national minimum standard for reading.

In contrast, couple families where both parents were employed had the lowest proportion of students scoring below the national minimum standard, with 5% not meeting the national minimum standard for reading, 4% not meeting the national minimum standard for numeracy and 11% not meeting the national minimum standard for writing.

Consistent with the indicators of socioeconomic status, children of homeowners tended to do better on NAPLAN than renters, particularly those in public housing. Less than 5% of children whose home was owned, either outright or with a mortgage, scored below the NAPLAN national minimum standard for numeracy. Students in a household renting from the state housing authority fared the worst, with 17% of these scoring below the national minimum standard for numeracy.

Children in larger families were more likely to score below the national minimum standard for reading, writing and numeracy. For example, more than twice the proportion of children in families with six or more children did not meet the national minimum standard for reading, compared with those in families with one child (20% compared with 9%).

While the majority of children live in a dwelling with broadband internet access, children in households with no internet connection fared more poorly on numeracy, reading and writing. Eighteen percent of children in households with no internet connection scored below the national minimum standard for reading compared with 7% of those who did have the internet at home.

The new paper is the first in a series of releases that will publish the results from the Measuring Educational Outcomes over the Life-course project being conducted by the ABS. The aim of the project is to link datasets and produce analyses that assess the impact of personal, family, social and economic characteristics on school achievement over time.

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