Northern Territory Review of Indigenous Education

I have just finished reading Bruce Wilson’s Draft Independent Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory and I am impressed and dismayed.

I am impressed because this is the first time I have seen a report on the NT Department of Education (DoE) website that notes the systemic failure of ‘bush schools’ in the NT and the devastating consequences of this. This report has placed the urgency of this situation squarely on the public agenda and this is important. I am impressed because he has been willing to question the business-as-usual assumption that the answer must be to keep doing what we do, but to do it better.

His recommendations about centralising all remote indigenous secondary education into urban and regional centres took me completely by surprise and I am still considering my response to this.

But I am also dismayed. Wilson has plenty to say about funding and resourcing but at no time in this report does he raise the underfunding of NT remote schools. Continue reading “Northern Territory Review of Indigenous Education”

Disadvantaged Schools Have Fewer Educational Resources than Advantaged Schools

Disadvantaged schools in Australia have far fewer educational resources than advantaged schools. They experience more teacher shortages, and more shortages or inadequacy of educational materials and physical infrastructure than advantaged schools. These are key findings of an analysis by Save Our Schools of data presented in a supplementary report by the OECD on results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment. Continue reading “Disadvantaged Schools Have Fewer Educational Resources than Advantaged Schools”

NAPLAN Results Show Australia has a Major Equity Problem in Education

The latest national literacy and numeracy test (NAPLAN) results contradict Christopher Pyne’s claim that Australia does not have an equity problem in education. The only verdict to be drawn from the new NAPLAN report is that Australia has a major equity problem and little progress has been made in alleviating it in the last five years. Continue reading “NAPLAN Results Show Australia has a Major Equity Problem in Education”

Test Scores Have Declined for Low Achieving as well as High Achieving Students

A new report by the Australian Council for Educational Research provides a very useful overview of the results for Australian students on international and national tests. In particular, it shows an overall decline in reading and mathematics achievement amongst 15 year-old students, a growing gap between the most advantaged and the least advantaged secondary schools in Australia, and further confirmation of the strong influence of socio-economic background on student achievement. Continue reading “Test Scores Have Declined for Low Achieving as well as High Achieving Students”

Explaining the Socio-Economic Gap in School Completion Rates

A study just published by academics from the University of Melbourne has found that student and parent aspirations are key factors contributing to the large gap in school completion rates in Australia between low and high socio-economic status (SES) students. Another key factor is lower achievement by low SES students at age 15.

Dropping out of school has deleterious effects on the careers and life prospects of young adults. A large body of literature demonstrates that early school leavers have difficulty finding and retaining employment and are more likely to be in low-paid jobs compared to those who complete school. Closing gaps in completion by SES will help address the imbalance in student opportunity by family background and reduce intergenerational inequity. Continue reading “Explaining the Socio-Economic Gap in School Completion Rates”

Closing the Opportunity Gap

A new book called Closing the Opportunity Gap just published in the United States shows that students’ overall opportunities to learn are affected by multiple factors that arise both inside and outside of school. It says that significant progress in improving results will occur only when with comprehensive programs to address student learning at both levels of influence. It makes a series of recommendations targeted at students’ individual needs, in-school opportunities and resources, and at communities and neighbourhoods. While the recommendations are designed for the US context they provide a good starting point for debate about improving school outcomes for disadvantaged students. Continue reading “Closing the Opportunity Gap”

Social Segregation in Schools is Increasing

A new report by Canberra researcher, Barbara Preston, shows that social segregation in Australia’s schools has increased markedly over the past 25 years. Students from low income families are highly concentrated in public schools while private schools have much larger proportions of their enrolments from high income families.

The new figures, derived from ABS Census data, show that 75 per cent of students from low income families attend government schools. Catholic schools enrol 16 per cent of all low income students while Independent private schools enrol just 10 per cent. Continue reading “Social Segregation in Schools is Increasing”

Outrageous that Rich Schools Decide Funding for the Disadvantaged

The public education advocacy group Save Our Schools today called for government schools to be included in negotiations over the funding loadings for disadvantaged students in the new school funding model. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the future funding for disadvantaged schools is being held hostage to negotiations with the richest schools in Australia. Continue reading “Outrageous that Rich Schools Decide Funding for the Disadvantaged”

New Figures Show No Progress in Reducing Low Student Achievement in the Past 30 Years

New figures show that no progress has been made over the past 30 years in reducing the proportion of students finishing school with only the most basic literacy and numeracy levels. They demonstrate the longstanding failure of governments to address the needs of low achieving students. They add to the case to implement the $6.5 billion increase in funding for disadvantaged schools and students recommended by the Gonski review of school funding. Continue reading “New Figures Show No Progress in Reducing Low Student Achievement in the Past 30 Years”

Student Background Has a Strong Influence on Achievement

The latest results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) show a strong connection between socio-economic status (SES) and student achievement in Australia. They show a strong connection between parent education background and student results, between home educational resources and student results and between the socio-economic composition of schools and school results.

The results contradict claims by defenders of government funding for elite private schools that socio-economic background has a minor effect on student achievement. Continue reading “Student Background Has a Strong Influence on Achievement”